Black-Friendly Businesses in Cities During the Civil Rights Era

56 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2020 Last revised: 13 Apr 2023

See all articles by Lisa D. Cook

Lisa D. Cook

Michigan State University - Department of Economics and James Madison College; NBER

Maggie Jones

Emory University

David Rosé

Wilfrid Laurier University

Trevon Logan

Ohio State University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: March 2020

Abstract

Quantitative analysis of Black business districts and evidence on the magnitude of social change leading up to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, in particular as it relates to the accessibility of public accommodations, is limited. We combine newly digitized data on the precise geocoded location of nearly 6,000 Green Book establishments—public accommodations that were friendly towards African American clientele—across major urban areas with existing and new sources of data on social change to understand the dynamics of Black-friendly businesses within cities during the middle of the twentieth century. In doing so, we document a new set of facts. First, we show that the location and growth of Green Book establishments responded to economic forces. Second, we show that there was a large increase in the number of Green Book establishments in cities between 1939 and 1955. Third, for Green Book establishments located in cities for which the Home Owner’s Loan Corporation (HOLC) drew residential security maps, the vast majority (nearly 70 percent) were located in the lowest-grade, redlined neighborhoods. And finally, we show that 1950s urban renewal projects were related to the contraction of non-discriminatory businesses. Collectively, these facts suggest that more research on Black-owned and Black-friendly businesses is needed to fully understand the economics of urban change in the twentieth century.

Suggested Citation

Cook, Lisa D. and Jones, Maggie and Rosé, David and Logan, Trevon, Black-Friendly Businesses in Cities During the Civil Rights Era (March 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w26819, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3550967

Lisa D. Cook (Contact Author)

Michigan State University - Department of Economics and James Madison College ( email )

South Case Hall
East Lansing, MI 48825-1205
United States

NBER ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Maggie Jones

Emory University

David Rosé

Wilfrid Laurier University

75 University Ave W
waterloo, N2L 3C5
Canada

Trevon Logan

Ohio State University ( email )

2100 Neil Avenue
Columbus, OH OH 43210
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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