Museum hosts screening of ‘Green Book’ documentary
BALDWIN — Mention of the historic community of Idlewild hit the airwaves on the Smithsonian Channel this past winter during the airing of “The Green Book Guide to Freedom.”
When the documentary aired, members of the Idlewild community and Lake County Historical Museum were invited to participate in a screening at Detroit and take part in a panel discussion. On Saturday and Sunday, Lake County residents were invited to view the film and take part in a panel discussion right at the Lake County Historical Museum in Baldwin.
The documentary tells the story of a travel guide that helped African-American motorists safely navigate through segregated America. It features interviews with Idlewild residents and footage of Idlewild locations, including the Flamingo Club.
“We are exciting about showing the documentary,” said Lake County Historical Society President Bruce Micinski.
“African-Americans had to plan well in advance for traveling and would have to pack bedding, food for a long trip, extra gasoline and other necessities because places didn’t always welcome them.”
Afte the program, Micinski, Betty Foote, who worked at the Flamingo Club, and Ron Stevens, a professor at Purdue University who studied Idlewild, answered questions from the audience and shared their knowledge and experiences.
When an audience member asked if the Flamingo Club, which was featured in the film, would ever be restored, Foote said a group of investors are looking into renovating it.
Foote said being raised in Idlewild was an enriching experience.
“People who came to Idlewild, doctors, lawyers, performers and other successful people, were mentors. They were so fabulous and so classy. The ladies were beautiful and the men were well dressed. It did a lot for me because I wanted to imitate them,” she said.
Stevens said during the heyday in the mid- to late-1950s, the population at Idlewild would sometimes reach into the thousands with all the summer visitors.
There will be another screening event in August, with details to come.