ZAM Reporter


Dutch documentary filmmaker and journalist Serginho Roosblad follows Jonathan Calm's search into America's past and present.

Calm, a photographer and professor at Stanford University currently photographs all so-called ‘Green Book’ locations in the US. The Negro Motorist Green-Book was a travel guide published between 1936 and 1966. The book listed locations such as gas stations, motels, garages and roadside restaurants where African-American travellers were welcome at the time of the official segregation and did not have to worry about being attacked or arrested after sunset. The racist Jim-Crow laws in the Southern states in some cases instituted a curfew for Black Americans. In addition, there were also restrictions in other states to move freely.

In June 2019, Roosblad and photographer Calm travelled together through several former Green Book locations in Berkeley, Stockton and Sacramento, California, eventually ending through the Sierra Nevada in Reno, Nevada. Some of the locations listed in the Green Book are still there, such as the famous Claremont Hotel in Berkeley, California. While the once so lively New China Club is nowadays, ironically, is a parking lot.

Represent was nominated for an Emmy Award but did not win. Roosblad: ‘It was an incredible honor to be nominated for this prestigious television award. It is not only an acknowledgment of the work, but also of a history that I bring up in the film. The car is the ultimate symbol of freedom in America, but when it comes down to it, different rules apply for Black people. The publisher of The Negro Motorist Green-Book, Victor Hugo Green, stopped publishing the guide when African Americans obtained civil rights and official segregation came to an end. But to this day, Black people are victims of violence.

In 2018, Serginho Roosblad studied at the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley where he was the Marlon T. Riggs Fellow in Documentary. His graduation film, The Maze tells the story of one of the major freeway outlets in the United States and the four diverse landscapes adjacent to it. The film premiered at the San Francisco Urban Film Festival and then starred at a number of film festivals in the United States as well as in Sweden and the Rotterdam Architecture Film Festival in 2019.

Watch the documentary here.