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Black Like Me. “One of the deepest, most penetrating documents yet set down on the racial question.” - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. by John Howard Griffin. John Howard Griffin Biography II. Black Like Me Topic Purpose Overview Summary Characters Experiences Examples

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black like me

Black LikeMe

“One of the deepest, most penetrating documents yet set down on the racial question.”

- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


John Howard Griffin

table of contents

John Howard Griffin

      • Biography
  • II. Black Like Me
      • Topic
        • Purpose
      • Overview
        • Summary
        • Characters
      • Experiences
        • Examples
      • Quotes/Statements
        • JHG’s Final Account
  • III. Consequences
      • Personal
      • Deeds
        • March on Washington
        • Birmingham Bombing/Selma
        • Freedom Rides
      • Improvements
        • Civil Rights Act 1964
        • Voting Rights Act 1965

Table of Contents

i john howard griffin

I. John Howard Griffin

  • born in Dallas, Texas in 1920
  • started studies in France at the age of 15
  • worked for the French Resistance
  • disabled in 1946-1957
  • died on Sept. 9, 1980 due to diabetes
ii black like me
II. Black LikeMe


“The Journey was undertaken to discover if America was involved in the practice of racism against black Americans. Most white Americans denied any taint of racism and really believed that in this land we judged every man by his qualities as a human individual. In those days, any mention of racism brought to the public’s mind the Nazi suppression of Jewish people, the concentration camps, the gas chambers – and certainly, we protested, we were not like that.

If we could not accept our somewhat different practice of racist suppression of black Americans, how could we ever hope to correct it? Our experience with the Nazis had shown one thing: where racism is practiced, it damages the whole community, not just the victim group.

Were we racists or were we not? That was the important thing to discover. Black men told me that the only way a white man could hope to understand anything about this reality was to wake up some morning in a black man’s skin. I decided to try this in order to test this one thing…”

-John Howard Griffin, Epilogue



Black Like Me


the movie of 1964

  • “They don’t do it to you because you’re Johnny – they don’t even know you. They do it against your Negro-ness”
  • “They put us low, and then blame us for being down there and say that since we are low, we can’t deserve our rights.”
  • JHG’s Final Account
  • “I concluded that, as in everything else, the atmosphere of a place is entirely different for Negro and white. The Negro sees and reacts differently not because he is Negro, but because he is suppressed. Fear dims even the sunlight.
  • “We must return to them their lawful rights, assure equality of justice – and then everybody leave everybody else to hell alone. Paternalistic1 – we show our prejudice in our paternalism – we downgrade their dignity.”


1) A policy or practice of treating or governing people in a fatherly manner, especially by providing for their needs without giving them rights or responsibilities.

iii consequences

III. Consequences

March on Washington


iii consequences1

III. Consequences

The Birmingham Bombing


iii consequences3

III. Consequences

The Freedom Rides

the civil rights act 1964 the voting rights act 1965

The Civil Rights Act 1964 / The Voting Rights Act 1965

Lyndon B. Johnson signing the „Civil Rights Act“ in 1964

Lyndon B. Johnson & Martin Luther King Jr. celebrating the „Voting Rights Act“ in 1965

literacy test
Literacy Test?!

P.D. told the story of the Negro who went to register. The white man taking his application gave him the standard literacy tests:

“What is the first line of the thirty-second paragraph of the United States Constitution?” he asked.

The applicant answered perfectly.

“Name the eleventh President of the United States and his entire cabinet.”

The applicant answered correctly.

Finally, unable to trip him up, the white man asked,

“Can you read and write?”

The applicant wrote his name and was then handed a newspaper in Chinese to test his reading. He studied it carefully for a time.

“Well, can you read it?”

“I can read the headline, but I can’t make out the body text.”

Incredulous, the white man said: “You can read that headline?”

“Oh, yes, I’ve got the meaning all right.”

“What’s it say?”

“It says this is one Negro in Mississippi who’s not going to get to vote this year.”