© 2010 Lance. All rights reserved.

Driving While Black? There’s an App for That.

Is there any doubt that, had just a few things in history played out differently, this would be available for your mobile phone today? I wonder whether there is an equivalent for the GLBT crowd or fat people. (I’m thinking of more-or-less accepted forms of outright bigotry, not suggesting that blackness is like fatness.) This ad ran in the June, 1961 issue of Ebony. Here’s the text:

No More Embarrassment • No More Discrimination

• Where You Will Eat
• Where You Will Relax & Play
• Where You Will Sleep
• Where You Will Be Welcomed

TMC GUIDE’S 87 pages of cheerful and helpful information will give you TRAVEL PIECE OF MIND. Your trip will be a happy one. TMC GUIDE covers U.S.A., CANADA and CARIBBEAN ISLANDS. Lists over 4000 Hotels, Motels, Resorts and places of interest. You will be delighted with this wonderful GUIDE. Complete list of States which have Civil Rights Laws.

Send $2.00 postpaid (Sorry, no C.O.D.) to:


ATTENTION AGENTS—1 doz. travel Guides cost you $12.00. Can sell quickly for $24.00—100% profit—Order Now! We pay postage.

The fact that this existed within my parents’ lifetime is kind of amazing. I went looking for more on the Tourist Motor Club, and found this from the September 25, 1958 issue of Jet:

Chicagoan Publishes Book He Hopes Will Die
A Chicago businessman, who publishes a new travel guide to help Negro tourists avoid Jim Crow restaurants, hotels and public travel accommodations, said he hopes for the day that no one will buy the book. Walter L. Lowe, prominent South Side insurance broker and president of the Tourist Motor Club, said the TMC Travel Guide, 1958-1959 lists establishments in the U.S. and abroad where Negroes can be served with dignity, courtesy and warmth. Mr. Lowe said he hopes a need for the book will soon disappear.

There is also this, from page 143 of The lost city: the forgotten virtues of community in America by Alan Ehrenhalt:

For $20 a year in 1957, a black family could join an organization called the Tourist Motor Club. What they received in return was a list of hotels and restaurants where blacks would be allowed inside the door, and a guarantee of $500 in bond money in case they found themselves being arrested for making the wrong choice. “Are you ready for any traveling emergency–even in a hostile town?” the Tourist Motor Club asked in its ads, and not unreasonably. “What would you do if you were involved in a highway accident in a hostile town–far away from home. You could lose your life savings–you could be kept in jail without adequate reason. You could lose your entire vacation fighting unjust prejudice.”

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