Wednesday, September 07, 2011


John Howard Griffin

A postscript to the Albuquerque Cultural Conference --

At the Albuquerque airport on the way back to Minneapolis, I ran into Bryce Milligan and we talked for a few minutes. As noted in the previous blogpost about the conference (at the above link), Bryce is the publisher of Wings Press. (See additional links below.)

Bryce mentioned that Wings Press is publishing a 50th anniversary edition of the book Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin.

If you're not familiar with the book, I definitely recommend it. I read it long ago, for a high school English class. The book is Griffin's real-life account of his experience in 1959 of having his Caucasian skin darkened (through medications and sun-lamp treatments), shaving his head, and then living the next several weeks as -- to all appearances -- an African-American man, traveling through the southern United States. He did this in coordination with Sepia magazine, which published Griffin's reports of his experiences in 1960; Griffin expanded the articles into the book Black Like Me, which was published in 1961.

The publication of Griffin's articles, and the book that followed, caused shock and awakening for many white Americans at the time, presenting the stark picture of Griffin's daily encounters with every manner of racism, including, at times, real danger to his life. Griffin was already an experienced and published writer at the time he wrote Black Like Me, and he reflects on his experiences with insight and sensitivity.

The Wings Press webpage for the book is here. According to the webpage, the official publication date for the new edition is October 1, 2011. The page includes short excerpts from reviews in many publications, and a full review of the book from the Washington Post in 2007.

Wings Press has also published several of John Howard Griffin's other books. The Wings Press webpage for Griffin is here.

The main page for Wings Press is here.

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