Writer John Howard Griffin (1920-1980) decided to perform an experiment in order to learn from the inside out how one race could withstand the second class citizenship imposed on it by another race. Through medication, he dyed his skin dark and left his family and home in Texas to find out.
The setting is the Deep South in 1959. What began as scientific research ended up changing his life in every way imaginable. When he decided the real story was in his journals, he published them, and the storm that followed is now part of American history.
As performed by Ray Childs, this first-ever recording of Black Like Me will leave each listener deeply affected. John Howard Griffin did the impossible to help bring the full effect of racism to the forefront of America's conscience.
©1960, 1961, 1977 John Howard Griffin; renewed 1989 Elizabeth Griffin-Bonazzi, Susan Griffin-Campbell, John H. Griffin, Jr., Gregory P. Griffin, and Amanda Griffin-Sanderson; (P)2004 Audio Bookshelf; Recorded by arrangement with New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA), Inc.
"No one can read it without suffering." (Dallas Morning News)
"Only the coldest of hearts could be unaffected by this story, told with dignity and warmth, conviction and steadfast honesty. Audiobooks like this can help heal wounds and open minds about racism, an issue our nation still struggles with." (AudioFile)
I love espionage, legal, and detective thrillers but listen to most genres. Very frequent reviews. No plot spoilers! Please excuse my typos!
memories of the growing up in the very racially segregated rural South with Jim Crow laws that would not allow my black friends/neighbors to go to the same school, use the same public restrooms, drink from the same public drinking fountains, and eat in the same restaurants as me. It brings back memories of this wonderful book.and memories of meeting and talking with John Howard Griffin. And memories of losing my signed copy from the original run of this beautiful book years later during a move. Finally, it brings back memories of the KKK burning a cross in our yard 30 feet from our house in June of 1955 just before my 12th birthday to warn us to stop associating with our closest neighbors and friends who happened to be black.
I was born and raised in the very racially segregated rural US South, and I am white. I first read Black Like Me late in 1961 as a freshman in college in Chapel Hill NC. During the first semester of my junior year (fall semester of 1963) I took a sociology course that used Black Like Me as the textbook and which had John Howard Griffin for three guest lectures. I was a math and chemistry major, so the sociology course was one of my few electives. The sociology class was small with approximately 20 students, all white. (The first few black students were admitted to UNC-CH for the fall semester of 1961 and during 1963 the black student population was still very small.)
For more than 50 years I have cherished Black Like Me and spending some time discussing his experiences with the remarkable man who wrote it. I was active in civil rights demonstrations at the time. As I look back at the impact of the book and of our participation in in the cause of ending racial segregation and Jim Crow laws, it strikes me that our efforts were a miniscule portion of promotion of necessary changes. That also applies to the book.
As much as Griffin was exposed to discrimination by most white people he encountered in the deep US South and the horrid inconveniences caused by Jim Crow laws because of the color of his skin, he also found that the discrimination was not universal; there were also acts of kindness from many of those white people.
When I first read Black Like Me it represented the world that existed in the South at that time. It's power now is as a raw document of history written at the time it was happened. The book is also a powerful statement of the courage of one person among the multitude that through their combined efforts changed laws and a system that discriminated against people because of the color of their skin.
In the end, the major power of Black Like Me is that it tells a historical story in a way and with a power that is unmatched by that in history books.
Computer Programmer and Worship Leader. Have enjoyed reading since my mom got me hooked on Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie prior to my teen years. My brother got me hooked on audio books after I started having a longer commute to work. Love a variety of genres.
What a fantastic book! Had this in my audible library and finally got around to reading it.
First of all, it was hard to believe that you could physically transform a white man to a black man, but I've seen the before and after pictures online and it was amazing.
Secondly, the various situations he encountered were almost unbelievable. From a man who picked him up while he was hitchiking, primarily to ask him about his genitalia, to the shoe shine man who didn't realize he was the same guy before and after, the stories in this book are simply astounding!
Third, it is also curious as to how dangerous an undertaking this actually was. Can't believe he came out physically unscathed, although there are some close calls in the book. (However, after the book was published, he and his family had to flee to Mexico due to death threats).
Like "Uncle Tom's Cabin", this is a must-read and really points out how it feels to be on the "other side". Highly recommend!!!!
As a white woman who decided to read and learn more about black history, the finding of this book was purely accidental, but couldn't have been more appropriate. At first I thought I was going to find this tedious, but once I gave in to giving this timeless piece work a fair chance, I was engrossed. I learned much and my perspective was broadened immensely. After further investigation, this book is often used in the academic setting. After experiencing this incredible tale of a timeless social experiment, I feel it should be mandatory reading in the academic setting. Absolutely breathtaking and I have not remorse for experiencing this book. Conversely I have an enormous gratitutde for the opportunity to experience this marvelous piece of literary work.
I loved... LOVED... listening to this book. The story is amazingly interesting (especially for social scientists who study race in America). But the reason I took time to write this review is to comment on the narrator's performance. I cannot imagine another person doing a better job. I am now a total fan of Ray Childs; I just wish there were more selections read by him. If you find the description of this book the least bit interesting, you won't regret spending time with it.
This book makes you stop, think, and question. It stays with you, haunts you and makes you reflect on yourself and how you treat others. I stumbled upon this little gem quite by accident as I was looking for books which addressed social justice for a graduate course. I was astonished. Griffin has gone above and beyond to explore racism. This story takes place in the 1960s and is told from his experiences. He chemically and medicinally darkens his skin to become a black man. His experiences are heartbreaking. He witnesses both kindness extended by complete strangers and chilling cruelty from neighbors. I won't give spoilers or too much detail as you must listen to/read this book for yourself.
A touching, poignant story of one man's incredible courage to move outside the realm of the "known" in order to discover the truths of racism and ignorance ingrained into Southern society. Growing up in Kentucky in the 60's, I witnessed many of the tragic and gut-wrenching scenarios described in his journey. A brilliant social experiment that exposes the lies of what some believe is "equality." A reminder to us all to keep ourselves in check when dealing with people of different races, religions and nationalities different from our own.
Excellect, the best book i have read for years. It shows how far we have come in such a short time but it also shows how much further we have to go.
The book is a must not only for Americans (I am not American) becuase the world must stop judging and start embracing.
This book was required material for some high schools in Canada. I feel like it should be required material for every high school student in the United States.
I never read the book but feel that they would have been on an equal par.
I found the very poor young man with his wife and children living in the forest to be my favourite character because I remember a young man in South Africa some years ago saying to my father that had he broken down in a rural area, he would have taken him in and given him what food he had and a place to sleep but it would not have been the same if the young man had broken down in a "white" area. I really found the whole situation the same as I had known it then.
I think that Ray Childs brought a good narrative voice and quality to the reading, which brought my imagination to life in many ways. His voice brought the whole situation to life.
Man's arrogance in thinking that he has the right to judge and see himself as superior to anyone.
I loved the book. For me it was a confirmation of what I thought was happening in America in that time period. I had also seen this in South Africa, and in later years as well until Mandela's government took over. I was able to see a lot through this book which I had only thought and believed happened.
This book speaks the truth and is a must read eye opener...unfortunately, not much has changed just not as overt. I loved the narration, made the book come to life!!!!!
Don't miss it.
There is plenty of bleak humour in this book. One of the most grimly funny exchanges was when Griffin was discussing visiting a church and then in the same conversation asked where he could find the closest of the very few "black" toilets. The other man asked him if he wanted "to pray or to piss" and then observed that since there were so few such facilities available for the use of black people in town, he would spend most of his time "praying for a place to piss".
He read the narrative well.
It's a short book but couldn't be read properly in one sitting because there was too much to think about.
An important historical document, absorbingly well told.
"Excellent listening - great narration!"
Read this at school in the lates 70's. As a black pupil in a mainly black class I was really fascinated by the unusual storyline and was really anxious to get through to the end.I wasn't disappointed at all.Since rediscovering it, have recommended to others, black and white!
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