John Howard Griffin’s Black Like Me


Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin | LibraryThing

(Last book review of books finished in 2012!)

Griffin, J. H., & Childs, R. (2004). Black like me. Middletown, Me.: Audio Bookshelf, LLC.

Reasons for Reading:Yet again, I sought another nonfiction eAudio work to entertain me during my work commute. I came across Black Like Me, checked it out from the HCPL Digital Media Catalog, and put it on my iPhone.

Summary: Texas Writer John Howard Griffin underwent a bold experiment like no other. He left his home in Mansfield, Texas with the intent to “pass as black.” With the help of a reticent New Orleans dermatologist, Griffin took a course of drugs, endured sunlamp treatments, and applied skin creams in order to understand the “black experience” firsthand. He also shaved his head and, later, his arms.

Then, he traveled through the Deep South as a black man. His social experiment altered the lives of many. Black Like Me is a journal of Griffin’s courageous experiment. The title comes from Langston Hughes’ “Dream Variations”

Rest at pale evening…

A tall slim tree…

Night coming tenderly

Black like me.

What I Liked: I appreciated what Griffin did. Also, I found Griffin to be a gifted writer who wanted to understand and help his fellow citizens. I liked that Griffin didn’t lie, either. He seemed to be an interesting and virtuous man.

What I Disliked:  Many versions of this book exist. I’m grateful I got an edition with an epilogue which Griffin wrote in the 1970s. As hindsight is 20/20, Griffin related the outcome of Black Like Me. It’s my feeling that this should be the version everyone reads.

Four Out of Five Pearls

Setting: Texas, New Orleans, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina

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3 thoughts on “John Howard Griffin’s Black Like Me

  1. Interesting choice. I read this book in an undergraduate Sociology class in the early 60s. At that time, as a white male, I had an awareness of being black in America that was much more limited than it would become just a few years later. Because of that, the book had an impact that I’m not sure it would have today. A couple of items of trivia: (1) they made a not-very-good movie of this in the mid-60s, & (2) Griffin was severly beaten after the publication of this book for having written negatively about the South.

  2. Pingback: The Sunday Post ~ sharing blog news and book haul ~ Jorie’s 21st Edition « Jorie's Reads

  3. Pingback: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (Revisited Challenge) | Jorie's Reads by Starry Night Elf

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