Historians discover Emporia woman offered safe house for Black people during civil rights movement

Black History Month

EMPORIA, Kan. (KSNT) – One local town has discovered its part in a hit movie that explores race relations in 1960s America.

The ‘Green Book’ is filled with locations across the country that Black Americans weren’t allowed to stop in while traveling. Emporia, Kansas was on the list. Historians at the Lyon County History Center were inspired by a 2018 film titled after the book and they discovered Emporia’s connection.

An Emporia woman opened her home to people who needed a spot to stay, or even grab a bite to eat.
Artilla Elliot was the generous woman. The Lyon County History Center is continuing now to explore her life, and how she served the community by providing safe places for black travelers to stop.

“We know it went through Kansas. There’s a lot of famous stops in Kansas City for it,” said Lora Kirmer with the History Center. “There’s some in Topeka and in Lawrence and we’re like, we just wondered, we’re like Emporia is a crossroads of sorts. So is there any sort of chance that Emporia could be in there? And yeah, there’s one mention in 1947 and it was the Elliot Home.”

The house is located at 816 Congress Street in Emporia and still stands today, but the Lyon County History Center hasn’t been able to track down the current owners.

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