An award-winning African American author, photographer and cultural documentarian with a master’s degree in Visual and Critical Studies, Taylor produces multimedia projects including books, videos, websites, radio documentaries and traveling exhibits (www.taylormadeculture.com).
The Overground Railroad: The Green Book and the Roots of Black Travel in America
(Abrams, Coming in 2019)
From 1936-1966 Victor H. Green, a black postal worker from Harlem, published a guide to help blacks travel the country with dignity. He called it, “The Negro Motorist Green Book” and featured Mark Twain’s quote, “Travel is fatal to prejudice” on every cover. Advertisements inside affirmed: “Just What You Have Been Looking For!! NOW WE CAN TRAVEL WITHOUT EMBARRASSMENT.” The Green Book was a resourceful and innovative solution to a horrific problem, published during a time when automobile travel symbolized freedom in America. But even Blacks who traveled north to escape Jim Crow segregation quickly learned that Jim Crow had no borders. Segregation was in full force throughout the country and black travelers couldn’t eat, sleep, or even get gas in most white-owned businesses. Moreover, they had to navigate a country with nearly 10,000 “sundown towns,” all-white communities which banned blacks from their city limits after dark. Considering the violence and terror blacks encountered on the road, The Green Book provided critical, life-saving information and offered shelter in an unsafe world during a shameful chapter in American history. People called it the “Bible of Black Travel,” and an AAA guide for blacks, but it was much more than that. It was a powerful tool which helped blacks to persevere and literally move forward in the face of racism. The Green Book listed hotels, restaurants, beauty salons, department stores, barbershops, taverns, nightclubs, tailors, garages and real estate offices that opened their doors to black people. It even included recreation parks such as Disneyland, golf courses, and Murray’s Dude Ranch, billed as the “Only Negro Dude Ranch in the World”.
Taylor is creating a trans-media, multidisciplinary project that will consist of a book, a traveling exhibition, an interactive digitized map, a mobile app featuring the most compelling Green Book sites that are still standing, a board game, and a virtual reality platform.
Counter Culture: The American Coffee Shop Waitress (Cornell University Press, 2014)
Counter Culture celebrates the well-seasoned waitresses who race to our tables, argue with the cooks and bring humor and culture to the American roadside dining experience. It's a window into the lives of career waitresses who have worked in diners for up to sixty years. They do more than serve food. They are part psychiatrist, part grandmother, part friend and they serve every walk of American life: from the retired and the widowed, to the wounded and the lonely, and from the working class to the wealthy. This book takes a moment to honor and recognize these American icons and their contribution to our communities.
The best diners are more than restaurants, they are neighborhood institutions that bring communities together, not defined by their menus or decor but by the waitresses who have established bonds with their customers and their communities over decades of service.
Candacy Taylor (a former waitress herself) traveled more than 26,000 miles throughout the United States collecting stories of these "lifers" aged fifty and older who have been working in diners for most of their lives. Their compelling stories are complemented and enhanced by Taylor's striking photographs. Taylor's sensitive and respectful portrayal of career waitresses who have made their job into a rewarding lifetime pursuit turns "Counter Culture" into an invaluable portrait of the continued importance of community in our changing society.
Counter Culture was bought by ABC TV to be the basis of a weekly television show.
Moon Handbooks Route 66 Road Trip (Avalon Travel Publications, 2016)
From pristine prairies and red rock mountains to the glittering Pacific, this fabled highway has beckoned everyone from Dust Bowl escapees to 1950s vacationers. Route 66 is lined with the history of those seeking a better life, whose stamina, perseverance, and imagination made it an American icon. Their stories are threaded throughout this book, amid the colorful characters and cultural curiosities that embody the Mother Road today. Everything you need to get your kicks on Route 66.