On the outskirts of Phoenix, on a nondescript street of a forgettable block, sits an extraordinary relic of black motoring past, and my first Green Book stop. It’s the former home of Louis Jordan, or, as it’s listed in the 1957 Negro Travelers’ Green Book, the Louis Jordan Tourist Home at 2118 Violet Drive.
Jordan—one of the most popular bandleaders of the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s, who could arguably lay claim to having been the main influence for the creation of R&B, rock ’n’ roll and hip-hop—had moved to Phoenix in 1952 to retire in what Jet magazine at the time called “a swanky new estate.”
If you were a black traveler in the 1950s, you could have rented a room in that estate and kicked it with Jordan, which, in 2017, would sorta be like renting a room with D’Angelo ... with his shirt on, I suppose.
But here’s the kicker. Remember that I’m going to these Green Book properties blind, wanting to find out what I can learn about these homes, hotels, restaurants, etc., organically, instead of as setups. So when I rang the doorbell, out came a young man, neatly dressed, who politely told me that the home was now a private home.
“Fine,” I replied. “Do you mind if I ask who now owns the compound?”
“The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan does, sir,” he answered.
The home had originally been purchased by the Honorable Minister Elijah Muhammad for the same reasons that Jordan had purchased it, as a way to improve his health via the warm Arizona climate. In the mid-’80s, Minister Farrakhan purchased it and has used it ever since.
So there you have it. Green Book site No. 1: alive and kicking ... and still black-owned. But ... you’re gonna have to call the Nation of Islam to see if they’re still taking in travelers.