Now a staple mode of transportation for most families, the car also played an integral role in the civil rights movement and the search of true freedom for Black communities throughout the 20th century.
In honor of Black History Month, the Athens-Clarke County Library will host a virtual author visit with Gretchen Sorin at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 4, where she will discuss her book, “Driving While Black: African American Travel and the Road to Civil Rights."
Sorin’s book reveals how Black families evaded the dangers of a racist society by relying on travel guides, Black-only businesses and communication networks to keep them safe on the open road, according to a January 2021 ACC Library press release.
In addition to being an author, Sorin is a distinguished professor and the director of the Cooperstown Graduate Program. In her book, Sorin compiles decades of research and oral histories detailing the importance of cars for Black communities in the U.S.
“I hope that this book helps people to understand how the place that African Americans are in in society is affected by this history, and I hope that it creates a dialogue about the power issues that our country faces today,” Sorin said.
Gretchen Elm, information services librarian at the ACC Library, will host the Q&A with Sorin and is particularly interested to hear about Sorin’s inspiration behind writing the book and how she went about her research.
“I really want to know how she went about researching. She wrote in her book that she travelled a lot and spoke to a lot of different people when she was writing it, and I am very curious about her research process,” Elm said.
Sorin’s book was also adapted into a PBS film which premiered in October 2020 — not even a year after the book itself was published.
“Film is the perfect media for a story about travel and motion,” Sorin said.
For those who are interested in attending and hearing more about Sorin’s research and book, pre-registration for the virtual Q&A is available on the ACC Library website.