John Howard Griffin was born in Texas in 1920. As a student in France in 1939 he was caught up with the outbreak of the Second World War, and worked with the French Resistance before joining the US Army. Hit by shrapnel in an air raid, he lost his sight; a bout of spinal malaria in 1955 led to the paralysis of his lower body, but remarkably he regained both his sight and the use of his legs two years later. After the publication of Black Like Me he worked as a human rights activist, and taught at the University of Peace. He died in 1980.
“There is a saying among Negroes that no white man, no matter how hard he tries, can really understand what it’s like to be black in America. John Howard Griffin has come closer to this understanding than any white man that I know.” – Louis Lomax, Saturday Review
“If it was a frightening experience for him as nothing but a make-believe Negro for sixty-six days, then you think about what real Negroes in America have gone through for 400 years.” – Malcolm X