Oscar-nominated film honors legacy of historic Albuquerque motel

The De Anza is a well-known, historic Albuquerque motel. However, there’s a piece of its history not many know about, and this weekend it could win a coveted award during Hollywood’s biggest night.

“The whole place is a story,” said Jim Trump, the developer renovating the De Anza Motor Lodge on Central and San Mateo.

During a dark time in American history, the De Anza served as a light for thousands of travelers.

“Anybody could stay here,” said Trump.

For decades, Jim Crow laws that enforced racial segregation ruled across much of the US.

“It was a very challenging and difficult time,” said Kaisa Barthuli, with the National Park Service’s Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program.

During that time, the ‘Green Book’ guided African American travelers to places they were welcome to stay.

In those pages, the De Anza Motor Lodge was proudly listed. The property is currently undergoing a massive renovation, making it the only Albuquerque building in that book that’s still around.

READ MORE: Route 66 and the Historic Motorist Green Book

“In Albuquerque, there were about four or five motels listed in the green book,” said Barthuli.

The old Alvarado Hotel downtown was in the book too. Those two properties were one of just 6 percent of Albuquerque motels to welcome African American customers at the time. 

“…and this was about a year after the Civil Rights Act,” said Barthuli.

It’s not a time many people talk about, but this weekend the story of the Green Book will be front and center during the Oscars. ‘Green Book’ the film, telling the story of two friends traveling out west, is up for Best Picture at the award show. 

“That would be great if it wins,” said Barthuli.

Barthuli says if it does win, it’d shine a light on how some New Mexicans helped pave the way to a more welcoming future.

“This place was a safe haven and it will be again,” said Trump.

At its height, there were 28 businesses and homes in New Mexico that were in the Green Book. The Oscars airs this Sunday night.

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