John Howard Griffin, The Journey through Different Eyes
“He who is less than just is less than man.” — John Howard Griffin
Black Like Me, by Dallas/Fort Worth native John Howard Griffin (1920-1980), is on the reading lists of many high schools throughout the United States. Published in 1961, it was an instant success and was made into a feature film starring James Whitmore a few years later.
About the Writer
Griffin, a journalist, wrote about his journey through the South as a Black man, though he was actually white. He traveled from New Orleans to Atlanta, living as a Black man and observing how differently he was treated from how he would have been treated if people knew he wasn’t Black. A deep believer in the Catholic faith, he wanted to bring to light the merciless prejudice and discrimination of his time.
Original works of this author can be found at The University of Texas Harry Ransom Center in Austin. Because of the rarity of the treasures there, anyone under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. People requesting to see the collection need to get video training on how to handle materials before they are allowed to see them.
Read this article in Smithsonian Magazine to see why the book has remained a popular choice for so long.
“Nothing can describe the withering horror of this. You feel lost, sick at heart before such unmasked hatred, not so much because it threatens you as because it shows humans in such an inhuman light. You see a kind of insanity, something so obscene the very obscenity of it (rather than its threat) terrifies you. It was so new I could not take my eyes from the man’s face. I felt like saying: “What in God’s name are you doing to yourself?” — John Howard Griffin, Black Like Me
The Harry Ransom Center is the fourth stop on Texas Trail Part One.