Book report of Black Like Me that I did for Accelerated History class. An extensive overview of the book.

Essay by khanbA+, April 2002

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John Howard Griffin was a journalist and a specialist on race

issues. After publication, he became a leading advocate in the Civil

Rights Movement and did much to promote awareness of the racial situations

and pass legislature. He was middle aged and living in Mansfield, Texas

at the time of publication in 1960. His desire to know if Southern whites

were racist against the Negro population of the Deep South, or if they

really judged people based on the individual's personality as they said

they prompted him to cross the color line and write Black Like Me. Since

communication between the white and African American races did not exist,

neither race really knew what it was like for the other. Due to this,

Griffin felt the only way to know the truth was to become a black man and

travel through the South. His trip was financed by the internationally

distributed Negro magazine Sepia in exchange for the right to print

excerpts from the finished product.

After three weeks in the Deep South

as a black man John Howard Griffin produced a 188-page journal covering

his transition into the black race, his travels and experiences in the

South, the shift back into white society, and the reaction of those he

knew prior his experience the book was published and released.

John Howard Griffin began this novel as a white man on October 28,

1959 and became a black man (with the help of a noted dermatologist) on

November 7. He entered black society in New Orleans through his contact

Sterling, a shoe shine boy that he had met in the days prior to the

medication taking full effect. Griffin stayed with Sterling at the shine

stand for a few days to become assimilated into the society and to learn...