GREENSBORO, N.C. — February is "National Black History Month," also known as "National African-American History Month." It's an annual celebration of the contributions African Americans have made to U.S. history in their struggles for freedom and equality. This year's theme is "African Americans and the Vote." It coincides with the 150th anniversary of the 15th Amendment, which gave African American men the right to vote. During Black History Month, the public is encouraged to "celebrate the cultural heritage, diverse contributions, and unbreakable spirit of African Americans." But, you can always celebrate African American history year-round!
If you're looking for a way to dive into Black history, you might want to consider visiting The Historic Magnolia House on Gorrell Street in Greensboro. During America's Jim Crow-era, The Magnolia House Motel was a site listed in "The Green Book." For nearly 30 years, "The Green Book" acted as a travel guide for African Americans not welcomed in White-only hotels, restaurants, businesses, and other facilities or locations. The book provided the Black community with advice on safe places to eat and sleep while traveling from state-to-state under segregation.
The Magnolia House Motel provided accommodations for some of the most well-known African American writers, actors, athletes, musicians, and more. That includes, but not limited to, professional baseball player Jackie Robinson, author and historian Carter G. Woodson, and singers and entertainers James Brown, Ray Charles, Ruth Brown, and Ike and Tina Turner. In addition to housing African American celebrities, The Magnolia House accommodated the families of students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the Triad, including Bennett College and North Carolina A&T State University. The Magnolia House also acted as a special event venue for the Black community, offering wedding receptions and other formal gatherings.
The Magnolia House is listed on The National Register of Historic Places. Of the more than 250 Green Book sites, The Magnolia House is one of very few that continues to operate within their historic context. Embedded within its walls are memories of James Brown playing in the street with neighborhood children, Joe Tex signing autographs on the front porch, and moments captured with Ike and Tina Turner, Ray Charles, James Baldwin, Sam Cooke, Jackie Robinson, and more. The Magnolia House is listed on page 53 of the 1955 edition of the "The Green Book." The former motel was also recognized in six editions of "The Green Book" as a highly recommended place to stay for Black travelers in North Carolina.
Today's mission of The Magnolia House is "to restore and maintain the structure and operation of the historic motel." It currently offers the public dining and private experiences, such as Sunday brunch with live jazz music, corporate events, milestone celebrations, and bridal experiences. The Historic Magnolia House is located at 442 Gorrell Street in Greensboro. To learn more about The Historic Magnolia House, or to visit the historic site, or to donate to the Magnolia House Foundation, Inc., click here.