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Design

An Art Show Inspired by The Green Book

In “Sanctuary,” Derrick Adams uses history, fashion, and architecture to examine the way black Americans traveled in a period of highway expansion and limited civil rights.
“As African Americans," says Derrick Adams, "we have been able to adapt to the limitations of where we could go because we firmly believe that, collectively, wherever we are is where it’s at.”
“As African Americans," says Derrick Adams, "we have been able to adapt to the limitations of where we could go because we firmly believe that, collectively, wherever we are is where it’s at.”Terrence Jennings/Museum of Arts and Design

Travel has always been an integral part of America’s mythology. Manifest Destiny, the belief that colonists and pioneers were entitled to traverse and own all of the land between two shining seas, is our national origin story. But travel, much like the American Dream, has not always been equally accessible for all Americans.

For “Sanctuary,” an exhibit at the Museum of Art and Design (MAD) in New York City, artist Derrick Adams created pieces based on the Negro Motorist Green Book to examine travel through the lenses of history, fashion, and architecture. The Green Book, as it is otherwise known, was a compilation of businesses—gas stations, restaurants, motels, clubs—across the country that were willing to serve African Americans in the mid-20th century.