Photo: Lawrence Ross/The Root; Illustration: Erendira Mancias

Dawn hadn’t broken at 5 a.m. PDT when I jumped into the Mustang and headed east. #TheRootTrip is officially underway, and the first destination was Hooper’s Shell at 11913 Compton Ave., Los Angeles. Hooper’s is the only black-owned gas station in Los Angeles, so of course it made sense to fill up the Mustang for the blackest trip ever. Total spent at Hooper’s Shell: $44.23.

Lawrence Ross/The Root
Lawrence Ross/The Root
Lawrence Ross/The Root
Lawrence Ross/The Root

In planning #TheRootTrip, I found that one of the hardest tasks was identifying black-owned gas stations. Today there are only a handful across the country, but in the black community, gas station and convenience store ownership has been a successful wealth-building strategy for non-blacks like Korean, Indian and Pakistani immigrants.

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According to a 2013 study, the Asian American Store Owners Association reported that its 50,000 members own over 80,000 convenience stores. And according to the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing, there is one convenience store for every 2,100 residents, with nonfuel sales of $205 billion. Might be time for black folks to get in the gas game.

Now I’m headed to Phoenix from L.A. Surprisingly, the 1957 Green Book didn’t have many stops along my route. It’s a five-hour drive to Phoenix, so watch this space to find out what I find out.

See y’all in a few ...

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My soundtrack for the first part of the trip? I decided to go with Soul Brother No. 1, a James Brown mix, courtesy of DJ Henroc at City Cat Radio:

  1. James Brown, “Funky Drummer (Reprise)”
  2. Fred Wesley & the J.B.’s, “Damn Right I’m Somebody”
  3. James Brown, “Papa Don’t Take No Mess”
  4. James Brown, “The Big Payback”
  5. The J.B.’s, “Pass the Peas”
  6. Fred Wesley & the J.B.’s, “Rockin Fun”
  7. James Brown, “Funky Child”
  8. James Brown, “Stoned to the Bone”
  9. James Brown, “Funky President”
  10. The J.B.’s, “The Grunt”
  11. Slum Village, “I Don’t Know”
  12. LL Cool J, “I Shot Ya”
  13. Notorious B.I.G., “Dreams”
  14. Lil’ Kim, “No Time”
  15. Biz Markie, “The Vapors”
  16. Boogie Down Productions, “South Bronx”
  17. Gang Starr, “Words I Manifest (Remix)”
  18. Eric B. & Rakim, “Eric B. Is President”
  19. Das EFX, “The Want EFX”
  20. Kool G Rap and DJ Polo, “It’s a Demo”
  21. James Brown, “Get on the Good Foot”
  22. James Brown and the J.B.’s, “Gonna Have a Funky Good Time”
  23. James Brown, “Sex Machine”
  24. Fred Wesley & the J.B.’s, “I Know You Got Soul”
  25. Lynn Collins, “Mama Feel Good”
  26. Lynn Collins, “Think About It”
  27. Maceo Parker, “Soul Power”
  28. James Brown, “Black and Proud”
  29. James Brown, “Give It Up or Turn It Loose”
  30. Super Lover Cee & Casanova Rud, “Do the James”
  31. Public Enemy, “Public Enemy No. 1”
  32. Main Source, Nas and Akinyele, “Live at the BBQ”
  33. Jungle Brothers, “J. Beez Coming Through”
  34. Eric B. & Rakim, “I Know You Got Soul”
  35. Showbiz and A.G., “Soul Clap”
  36. Big Daddy Kane, “Raw”
  37. Ultramagnetic MCs, “Give the Drummer Some”
  38. The 45 King, “The 900 Number”
  39. Public Enemy, “Bring the Noise”