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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Parts of a new National Geographic documentary filmed in Kansas City will highlight Ruby Jean’s Juicery and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. 

The film is called “Black Travel Across America”. 

It looks at the past and the future of black travel and enterprise in this country and the rise of travel using the Green Book, which black travelers often depended on when they drove across a deeply segregated America during the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. 

The book told people which restaurants and hotels welcomed people of all races. It determined where players who traveled as part of the Negro Leagues stopped to eat or sleep.

“The green book was tremendously valuable as a guide to steer African Americans across this country where they knew they could find safe places,” Bob Kendrick said. “There were simply places as a black man you could not stop. You didn’t want to stop. This green book was really, truly a value-added kind of synopsis for African American travel.”

“In the Negro Leagues, at least they were traveling in large groups. But it was still very, very challenging. You could ride into a town, fill up a ballpark and then not be able to get a meal from the same fans that cheered you, or not have a place to stay.”

With desegregation, many black-owned businesses in the green books were forced to close.  

“That’s the bittersweet aspect of the story of the Negro Leagues. You can directly parallel the rise and fall of the Negro Leagues with the rise and fall of the black economy.”

“To a great extent, the black economy never recovered from losing the Negro leagues. What was good morally and socially was devastating economically.”

Ruby Jean’s Juicery opened eight years ago. Owner Chris Goode represents a new generation of black enterprise in Kansas City. 

Goode organized a screening of the movie, and put together a panel of experts, including Kendrick, to talk about using the past to build a bright future for black-owned businesses in the metro.

“We will dive into black commerce, black travel, and the nature of black politics in Kansas City. We have a new airport that is opening,” Goode said. “What does that mean for travelers? More than anything, the green book was steeped in what were safe havens for all people, including black people, and that’s what Ruby Jean’s is.  We will continue to celebrate that and talk about where we’re going as a city.”

“Black Travel Across America” is streaming now on Disney Plus and Hulu.