Black Like Me, 50 Years Later

John Howard Griffin gave readers an unflinching view of the Jim Crow South. How has his book held up?

John Howard Griffin, left in New Orleans in 1959, asked what "adjustments" a white man would have to make if he were black. (Don Rutledge)
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Nell Irvin Painter notes that while the country is no longer as segregated as it was a half century ago, “segregation created the ‘twoness’ Griffin and W.E.B. DuBois wrote about. That twoness and the sense of holding it all together with your daunted strength and being exhausted—that’s still very telling.”

Fifty years after its publication, Black Like Me remains a remarkable document. John Howard Griffin changed more than the color of his skin. He helped change the way America saw itself.

Bruce Watson is the author of several books, including Freedom Summer.


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