A Matic Road Trip Finale: Black Historical Landmarks From Albuquerque, New Mexico and Phoenix, Arizona
This summer, we decided to take a virtual road trip between Matic’s offices to discover lesser-known Black historical landmarks. We started in Columbus, Ohio, and worked our way through Indianapolis, central Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma City, and Amarillo, Texas. Along the way, we saw motels, restaurants, churches, and tourist attractions that have contributed to the legacy of the Green Books, an annual travel series published between the 1930s and 1960s that highlighted safe travel stops for Black Americans during the time of segregation.
In this leg of our road trip, we’re making one more stop in Albuquerque before pulling up to Matic’s western U.S. hub in Phoenix. Both cities include interesting stories and locations to help us remember what it was like to travel during a racially charged time period that was rife with pain and uncertainty. Amidst all of the turmoil, these havens served as beacons that were full of connection and easily identified by travelers thanks to the Green Books.
Stop 1: Albuquerque, NM
Before we arrive at our final destination in Phoenix, let’s stop by some multicultural havens in New Mexico.
De Anza Motor Lodge: This iconic motel near Route 66 served as a safe place for Black Americans to sleep, eat, and enjoy entertainment while traveling through New Mexico. Native American and Mexican-American doo-wop singers performed nearby and the De Anza featured a decked-out restaurant called The Turquoise, named after its floor embellished with turquoise and silver. There was also a basement conference room with two murals painted by Zuni artist Tony Edaakie.
Today, the De Anza Motor Lodge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s now a refurbished apartment complex, but you can stop by to see the original neon sign beckoning visitors. The original Zuni murals have also been preserved in the building’s basement community room.
Aunt Brenda’s Pit Barbeque Restaurant: Aunt Brenda’s restaurant was listed in several editions of the Green Books. It was located at 406 N. Arno Street. While the building is no longer standing, you can drive by the area and see where entertainers like B.B. King and Duke Ellington used to stop and eat in Albuquerque. One account also states that Black teachers would come and dine during the annual teacher’s convention in October.
Stop 2: Phoenix, AZ
We’ve finally reached Phoenix, where many Black Americans sought refuge when leaving the oppressive policies of the South following the Civil War.
Hotel Rice: While it’s no longer standing, Hotel Rice was opened by Black businessman Hughie Rice in 1919. For decades, it served as a boarding house where travelers could safely stay while passing through Phoenix.
Regularly listed as a destination in the Green Books, Hotel Rice also attracted stars such as Louis Armstrong and Jackie Robinson. You can pay homage to this historical landmark by visiting Chase Field, home to Major League Baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks, which is near the hotel’s original location.
Historic Tanner Chapel: This church has a rich history within the local Black community and is the oldest Black church in the entire state of Arizona.
Part of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Tanner Church also served as a hub during the Civil Rights Movement. In addition to hosting demonstrations, Martin Luther King, Jr. also made a speech there. You can visit the chapel at 20 South Eighth Street.
Greenwood Seneca is an organization that brings awareness to sites of Black history at risk of being forgotten. Supporting Greenwood Seneca will help further their mission of inviting the community to connect with Black historical sites and creating a unique space for Black community members to reclaim joy and honor their history. Additionally, Greenwood Seneca’s scholarship program supports students enrolled in HBCUs.
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Learn more about The Matic Cares Foundation here: https://matic.com/matic-cares/.