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Local history paralleled ‘Green Book’ story

Madelyn Roberson

The movie “Green Book,” which earned three Golden Globes, depicts African American pianist Don Shirley following a guidebook to find motels that would admit him while traveling in the 1960s.

Tampa Bay was no different from the rest of the South.

Madelyn Roberson, whose mother Betty Fuller was a patron at St. Petersburg’s Manhattan Casino, remembers entertainers James Brown, Count Basie and Duke Ellington staying in nearby homes.

“There weren’t any hotels for blacks,” she recalled recently. “They couldn’t stay on 34th Street. They weren’t even allowed to go up to 34th Street, to cross it, much less stay there.”

– Katherine Snow Smith, B2 Communications

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