It all started at a Louisiana museum! A traveling Smithsonian Institute exhibit featuring The Green Book was headed to Baton Rouge. Exhibit sponsor ExxonMobil knew they wanted to be part of the storytelling opportunities associated with the history of The Green Book and turned to LPB. We developed Safe Haven: Louisiana’s Green Book, a multiplatform initiative featuring a series of eight digital shorts showcasing historically significant locations from across Louisiana featured in The Green Book. The series shares with viewers the stories behind the Black-owned hotels, restaurants, gas stations and more that made travel possible for African Americans during the Jim Crow era.
The shorts first debuted on LPB’s YouTube Channel, on the dedicated microsite, www.lpb.org/greenbook, and on LPB social media channels. A statewide broadcast followed, with the series airing on our weekly news program, Louisiana: The State We’re In. The project met with so much enthusiasm, LPB created a 60-minute broadcast special. Underwriters ExxonMobil Baton Rouge were so pleased with the original series they asked for more! LPB went back and produced an additional two episodes.
Support for the series was a station-wide effort starting with an interactive community discussion about the series at the Capitol Park Museum in Baton Rouge in conjunction with the Smithsonian Exhibit. Our Education Division generated awareness of the series in both their parent and educator newsletters. Because of the historical and educational value of the series, LPB was able to forge new relationships and strengthen others. In particular, we developed a cross promotional partnership with 64 Parishes magazine, published by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (https://64parishes.org/safe-haven). We were also invited to discuss the series on the statewide podcast Louisiana Insider strengthening that relationship. Both partnerships continue today and have expanded to other projects.
LPB chose Kara St. Cyr to host and co-produce the series. Watching Kara learn and grow with each episode, discovering the history along with the viewers, is a big part of what makes the episodes work. Kara brought the perspective of a young Black woman to the audience and elevated what might have otherwise been a rote history lesson. Any station, in any state need only to explore their own entries in The Green Book to uncover rich and sometimes little-known history that deserves to be told and preserved.