Black Like Me
John Howard Griffin
In October 1959, before the Civil Rights movement spread across the United States, John Howard Griffin underwent medical treatments to disguise himself as a black man. Black Like Me follows John Howard Griffin on his travels through the segregated Deep South of America, exchanging the privileged life of a white man for the disenfranchisement of the black man, and experiencing the racism that was endured by millions on a daily basis.
From the threat of violence to the simple indignities of being unable to use a drinking fountain or buy food from a particular shop, Griffin documented his experience of racism in Black Like Me and opened the eyes of white America to the abuses going on in their country.
Black Like Me is required reading in schools and colleges in the United States, but this is its first British publication in decades. It serves to remind readers of the ever-present threats of racism and prejudice, and demonstrates the difference one man can make.
John Howard Griffin was a novelist and photographer. He served with the French Resistance during World War Two and after the publication of Black Like Me, enduring threats and physical attacks. As a human rights activist he worked with Martin Luther King Jr. and taught at the University of Peace.
“One of the most extraordinary books ever written about relations between the races.”
‘The Today Programme’, BBC Radio 4
“In 1959, a white American decided to turn himself into a ‘Negro’…John Howard Griffin would venture alone into some of the Deep South’s most virulently racist hotspots and experience life on the other side of the tracks…Black Like Me brilliantly reveals the dehumanisation of black people by the white majority…This reissued edition will introduce a whole new British readership to a work that is still an important, illuminating and fascinating read.”
Bernardine Evaristo, ‘The Times’
“Black Like Me is in the form of a two-month diary and revealed to white America – and Griffin himself – the indignities, abuse and threat of violence that black people had to put up with on a daily basis.”
‘Black History 365’, the official magazine of Black History Month
“John Howard Griffin…embarked on one of the most remarkable one-man social and psychological experiments in history…Griffin was the white man who fooled hundreds of Americans into believing he was a black man as he travelled through Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia – and who felt at first hand the bigotry that meant…It is worth reading what he wrote – and then reflecting, in this age of the first African-American president, on how far we have come. And how far we have to go.”
BBC News website
“One of the most fascinating journalistic investigations carried out in the USA…When Griffin described what he experienced…it awoke a vast section of the American public to what was happening in their country.”
“Fifty years after John Howard Griffin darkened his skin and travelled through the segregated US south, his record of the fear and prejudice he experienced is still resonant… As long as one group persecutes, fears and detests another, Black Like Me will, sadly, remain essential reading.”