Thinking about Green Book


I’m not sure about “best picture.”
In spite of the brilliant screenplay
and the stellar acting,

I wonder whether other movies
shaped by African American creatives —
Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman —
were the real change-makers in film, in culture,
in the conversation about race.

And yet I watched this smaller true story
brush my husband with PTSD,

remembering being a road manager
in those days,
carrying a Green Book in his briefcase
in case the black actors in “Hair,”
needed a safe place,

seeing his performers spit on,
listening to the phrase
“we just don’t do it that way,”
in diners, restaurants, donors’ parties,

glad that when Klansmen in sheets
jumped on stage in Oklahoma
to make a citizens’ arrest,
the stagehands were bigger and stronger
because the police were no help.

He remembered the truth of those days —
an Italian manager
assigned to traveling shows
with all black and mixed casts.

“I almost left the movie theater,”
he said, long retired now from the business,
“I felt sick
when I saw that car turn south.”

Critics say the movie is too “feelgood,”
He smiled, “some of that was also true.”

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4 Responses to Thinking about Green Book

  1. Stephen Price says:

    This is so important. Please thank Don for his work and his courage

    • Maren says:

      What are the chances we would actually go to the movies the evening of the Oscars!? And I didn’t mention that he was part of the clean-up crew after a hotel was bombed and the stage manager’s wife and child killed (and that was north). Those were very dangerous days.

  2. Terry Farish says:

    Don’s story is fascinating. How frightening it must have been on the road.Thank you for telling this.

  3. Maren says:

    It was, indeed. I can remember being frightened with mixed companies and that was early seventies — he dates back to late sixties.

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