Podcaster Alvin Hall and the cover of the Green Book, first published in 1936. Courtesy of Curtis Memorial Library

Podcaster and Bowdoin College alum Alvin Hall will return to Brunswick Thursday for a fireside webinar at Curtis Memorial Library to discuss his 10-episode podcast, entitled Driving the Green Book.

During the webinar, Hall and his friend and Brunswick local Richard Mersereau, will tell stories and answer questions about the podcast, which follows Hall and associate producer Janée Woods Weber during their 2,021-mile road trip from Detroit to New Orleans.

On the trip, Hall and Weber collected stories from Black Americans who used or knew about “The Negro Motorist Green Book,” a travel guide used by many Black Americans during segregation and Jim Crow to safely navigate cross-country trips.

“The idea for the podcast series was to take the listener on a journey to see what still existed of the Green Book,” Hall said in an interview.

The Green Book was originally published in 1936 by a New York City mailman named Victor Hugo Green.

According to Hall, his first work involving the Green Book was a program with BBC in 2016. Hall said that despite positive reviews in the UK, the program wasn’t able to gain traction in the US.

This, in part, led Hall to create the podcast and go on the 2019 road trip, where him and Weber stopped in various cities such as Cincinnati, Selma, Nashville and Columbus.

“These stories were so strong, and so memorable,” Hall said. “We quickly realized that this was not going to be simply a road trip, this is going to be a journey into the memories and emotions of the people who lived through this period and survived.”

One example of a story that Hall said resonated with him was that of a Black man driving in Alabama during the Civil Rights Movement. In the story, the man offered a white woman a ride to her home and as he drove a truck pulled up behind him.

“He was convinced at that moment that he was going to get shot,” Hall said. “Many people don’t remember that it wasn’t just the police who had the right to stop Black people in their cars on the road — it was any white person.”

Hall grew up in the panhandle of Florida and now lives in New York City. In addition to podcasting, he has had a career in writing, financial education and media. Hall was also a two-term trustee at Bowdoin College.

“I have always been curious about worlds and information, places and people that I don’t know,” Hall said, describing himself as a liberal arts student who never chose a major.

Mersereau, who will be co-hosting the event, is a former board member of the library and has known Hall for around fifty years. The two met at Bowdoin College in 1971, when Hall was a student and Mersereau was an admissions officer.

“He created the story — there wouldn’t be the podcast and the talk on Thursday except for Alvin’s awareness and initiative,” Mersereau said.

The webinar is free of charge and will be hosted through Zoom beginning at 6:30 p.m.

“Alvin is a master storyteller, sharing an important historical perspective of the African American experience in this country,” said Library Director Elisabeth Doucett.

To learn more about the event, visit curtislibrary.com. To listen to Driving the Green Book, visit us.macmillan.com/podcasts.

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