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Free Study Guide for Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin BookNotes

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FEBRUARY 26, 1960


The author decides to reveal the truth about racial discrimination, by simply publishing what happened to him. He gets a call from Paul Coates of Hollywood, asking him to appear in his interview program. Griffin accepts his offer.


Todayís entry is about the authorís keen perception that an arid and abstract document with generalizations and statistics on the Negro problem will not actually help to reveal the truth of what it is like to be a Negro. In fact it will only hide the truth rather than reveal it. Instead, he decides to write an incisive, honest autobiographical diary of events and experiences as they occurred - another example of the authorís sincerity and courage. He accepts the invitation of Paul Coates, to appear in his television interview program. Griffin knew that television interview programs were becoming very popular and that this interview would give him the opportunity to speak to the people. But at the same time, he is apprehensive about how he would be expected to conduct himself during the interview, that is, will he be expected to be absolutely honest about his experience or hold back.

MARCH 14, 1960


The author is interviewed on TV in Hollywood, which is then broadcast locally and widely watched by all viewers in his area. The author realizes that, now the whole country knows about his experiment and he awaits the repercussions, with bated breath. Two of his friends are the first to call, and then his concerned parents, all of whom warmly congratulate him. Then there is grim silence as the author hopes for his other friends and relatives to call.


This part of the diary is about the authorís, as well as the publicís actions and reactions to the Hollywood TV show featuring the authorís interview. The author is on pins, expecting the worst. Fortunately the first phone call is from two friends who speak to him for more than an hour, to stop any abusive calls from coming through. Then his parents call to give their deepest approval, even though filled with dread. Both are examples of courageous whites, in such trying circumstances. And then thereís pin-drop silence.

MARCH 17, 1960


The author is cordially interviewed by Time magazine in New York. He telephones his mother, who has received a threatening call from an anonymous white woman. Griffinís mother tells him that the woman has made a threat that if she wants her sonís welfare, she should not let him come to Mansfield. His mother is very frightened since she has never been confronted with this sort of brutality before. She therefore asks Griffinís wife to keep her company. So she calls his wife to keep her company. The author immediately asks for police surveillance for both the homes.


Todayís entry is a study in contrasts. On one side the author is very cordially invited and interviewed by Time magazine.

In sharp contrast is the threatening telephone call his mother receives from an unknown local white woman, who abuses and terrorizes her. She accuses the author of turning against the whites and throwing the door wide open for the niggers, after all the efforts to keep them out. Even though his mother tries to explain that he has done it for his own race, it is as useless as water on a duckís back. This sickening incident also reveals how even innocent family members are targeted by the white racists.


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