Lover of the Fancy

Early C20th American culture and dissent

Black Like Me
John Howard Griffin

£9.99

The classic account of a white reporter’s journey across the racial divide in 1950s America, reissued for the 60th anniversary of the events with a new foreword by Bernardine Evaristo.

In the autumn of 1959, a white Texan journalist named John Howard Griffin travelled across the Deep South of the United States disguised as a working-class black man. Black Like Me is Griffin’s own account of his journey. Published in book form two years later it sold over five million copies, revealed to a white audience the daily experience of racism and became one of the best-known accounts of racial injustice in Jim Crow-era America. Embraced by some and fiercely criticised by others, its legacy sixty years on remains problematic, but Black Like Me nevertheless stands as a fascinating document of its times.

Paperback, 224pp
Serpent’s Tail, 2019 (1960)
ISBN 9781788164528

Biography

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