This Black Business Is Making Waves On Route 66

Kenneth Lockhart, Stacy Grundy, and Gina Lathan, co-owners of Route History, the souvenir shop and visitor’s center highlights black experiences along Route 66 and in the city of Springfield. This experiences include the green book, Jim Crow laws, the Great Migration, and importance of black business operators.
Image By: Ted Schurter, The State Journal-Register via AP

We often hear about the famous Route 66 in American History, but it’s rarely linked to our Black history. Kenneth Lockhart, Stacy Grundy, and Gina Lathan are changing the narrative and introducing travelers to the rick Black culture that lives on the Route.

Route History is located two blocks from Abraham Lincoln’s preserved family home and neighborhood and one block from the Historic Route 66 in the capital city of Springfield, Illinois. Route History is an attraction that allows visitors to experience and learn about the tragedy, resilience, and excellence of Black people along Route 66 and in the city of Springfield, Illinois.

These experiences serve as a reminder of struggles and consistent perseverance towards excellence despite overwhelming systemic racism and injustices. Route History recognizes, celebrates and captures the often-untold story of Black people who defied odds, demonstrated the epitome of community and leadership and sacrificed with their lives for the betterment of others.

Route History pays tribute to Black business owners along and near Route 66, how they served as economic drivers along Route 66, were an integral fabric and social support in Black communities and the critical role of Black businesses as Black people transitioned from the south to the north during Jim Crow and the Great Migration.

Route History educates and pays tribute to Victor H. Green and the Negro Motorist Green-Book, the Springfield Race Riots of 1908 and the Black Entrepreneurship program of Esso Gas through pictures and displays. Springfield Illinois was a major safety-net for Black travelers who needed access to necessities – gas, lodging, and food, that was typically denied to them by neighboring “Sundown Towns” that required African Americans to leave their towns before the sun went down and often greeted Black visitors with overt racism.

“Route History’s physical location is symbolic of its mission to provide linkages of African American history with the broader Springfield Illinois history. Located a few blocks from Abraham Lincoln’s home and the Eleventh Street Corridor, the City’s unspoken segregation dividing line, Route History is