The Top 100 Inspirational Books: 40 - 21
29 - Black Like Me
Like Me is a stirring,
non-fiction book by journalist John Howard Griffin first published in 1961. A
white Texan, Griffin artificially darkens his skin with sunlamps and shoe
polish, then passes himself off as a black man. He spends a difficult six weeks
hitchhiking and travelling on Greyhound buses throughout the racially
segregated South, keeping a journal that describes how he was regarded as a
black man by both whites and blacks, then removing the shoe polish and
returning to the same scene – where he was treated differently. In 1959, at the
time of the book's writing, race relations were particularly strained in America
– and his book was not particularly well received in circles where the
politically correct view was that blacks were content to be second-class
citizens and would never rise any higher. I was given the book at Christmas by
a liberal Canadian uncle who annually liked to stir his teenage nephew’s
complacency with thought-provoking inspiration. The title of the book is taken
from the last line of the Langston Hughes poem Dream Variations: “Rest
at pale evening... A tall slim tree... Night coming tenderly -- Black like me.”
~ Rob Kerby
Purchase "Black Like Me" here.
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