Responses: 11
LTC Stephen F.
Edited 8 mo ago
Thank you my friend SGT (Join to see) for making us aware that on September 9, 1980 American photographer, journalist, and author (Black Like Me), John Howard Griffin died from complications of diabetes at the age of 60."

Uncommon Vision: The Life and Times of John Howard Griffin is a "work in progress" Morgan Atkinson documentary on the remarkable life of a son of the American South, who became a citizen of the world and stirred the conscience of a nation.
John Howard Griffin is best known as the white man who in 1959 disguised himself as a black man and then traveled anonymously through the heart of Dixie. From his experiences he wrote "Black Like Me", a groundbreaking best seller that today stands as a testament to Griffin's moral commitment and a document of one of the more extraordinary events of the Civil Rights era.
"Uncommon Vision" focuses on Griffin's social activism but will also examine how a spiritual commitment led him from a segregated childhood in Fort Worth to fighting with the French Underground, sustained him during ten years of blindness incurred by war injuries and inspired him during a prolific creative life as a writer/photographer.
It's an inspiring, entertaining and edifying story. Studs Terkel, one of the great chroniclers of 20th century American culture and a frequent interviewer of Griffin, summed him up thusly.
"John Howard Griffin was one of the most remarkable people I have ever encountered...He was just one of those guys that comes along once or twice in a century and lifts the hearts of the rest of us."

1. John Howard Griffin, author of Black Like Me
2. John Griffin as a 'black' man.
3. John Howard Griffin and his second wife Elizabeth Ann Holland
4. John Howard Griffin 'This tendency to make laws that are convenient or advantageous rather than right has mushroomed.'

1. tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/griffin-john-howard
2. todayifoundout.com/index.php/2015/06/black-like-story-white-journalist-john-howard-griffin/

Background from {[https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/griffin-john-howard]}
"Griffin, John Howard (1920–1980)
Elizabeth Griffin-Bonazzi

GRIFFIN, JOHN HOWARD (1920–1980).John Howard Griffin, writer, the second son of four children of John Walter and Lena May (Young) Griffin, was born in Dallas, Texas, on June 16, 1920. His mother was a classically trained pianist who taught for thirty years in the Fort Worth area, and his father was a fine Irish tenor and a radio personality as a younger man. His family influenced Griffin's lifelong love for both music and literature. He attended R. L. Paschal High School in Fort Worth until he left the United States at fifteen in search of a classical education. He entered the Lycée Descartes in Tours, France, completed studies in French and literature at the University of Poitiers, and studied medicine at the École de Médecine. He interned under the direction of Dr. Pierre Fromenty at the Asylum of Tours, conducting experiments in the use of music in therapy for the criminally insane. He received certificates of musical study from the Conservatoire de Fontainebleau, under the tutelage of such renowned teachers as Nadia Boulanger, Robert Casadesus, and Jean Batalla. As a musicologist specializing in medieval music, especially Gregorian chant, Griffin received certificates of study from the Benedictines at the Abbey of Solemnes in France.

Beginning at age nineteen, he worked as a medic in the French Resistance army, evacuating Austrian Jews to the port of St. Nazaire and to safety from the Nazis. He served thirty-nine months in the United States Army Air Corps in the South Seas. He was decorated for bravery and was disabled in the fighting during World War II. He lost his sight from 1946 until 1957. During his twelve years of blindness he wrote five novels (three unpublished) and began a journal in 1950 that had reached twenty volumes at the time of his death.

Griffin's books include The Devil Rides Outside (1952); Nuni (1956); Land of the High Sky (1959), the story of the Llano Estacado region and his only book on Texas; The Church and the Black Man (1969); and A Time to be Human (1977). He published photography in Jacques Maritain: Homage in Words and Pictures (1974) and Twelve Photographic Portraits (1973) and wrote several books on Thomas Merton: A Hidden Wholeness (1970), The Hermitage Journals (1981), and Follow the Ecstasy: Thomas Merton, the Hermitage Years, 1965–1968 (1983). Griffin also wrote syndicated columns for the International News Service and King Features from 1957 until 1960.

He is best remembered for Black Like Me (1961), still in print in 1990 and translated into thirteen languages. For this book Griffin assumed the identity of an itinerant black man by chemically altering his skin color and shaving his head, and visited several racially segregated states during a six-week period of 1959. He initially recounted his adventure in a series of installments printed in the magazine Sepia during 1960; a year later his book version became a best seller. After becoming the target of local protests against Black Like Me, Griffin moved with his family to Mexico, where he remained for about nine months before moving to Fort Worth.

He was a member of the American Society of Magazine Photographers, the Royal Academy of Photographers (Great Britain), and the musical fraternity Phi Mu Alpha. He was converted to Catholicism in 1952 and became a Third Order Carmelite. He was a lifelong Democrat and corecipient with John F. Kennedy of the Pope John XXIII Pacem in Terris Award; he received the Saturday Review Anisfield Wolf Award for Black Like Me (1962), the Christian Culture Series Award, and the National Council of Negro Women's Award. He received two honorary doctorates-LL.D. from Bellarmine University and Litt.D. from Marycrest College. Griffin married a woman from the island of Nuni while he was in the Pacific during World War II but received permission to marry from the Vatican before he married Elizabeth Ann Holland on June 2, 1953, in Mansfield. They had four children. Griffin died in Fort Worth on September 9, 1980."

2. Background from {[http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2015/06/black-like-story-white-journalist-john-howard-griffin/]}

June 4, 2015 Melissa 3 comments
black-like-meIn the fall of 1959, a white writer from the American South shaved his head, darkened his skin and spent the next six weeks on an odyssey, travelling from New Orleans through Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia as a black man. He wrote of his experience in Black Like Me, published in 1961, and the book became a clarion call to many who had previously turned a blind eye to racism in America. An extraordinary man, John Howard Griffin packed a lot of living into a relatively short life.

Born on June 16, 1920, John Howard Griffin was raised in Fort Worth, Texas, at a time when even his well-meaning, Christian family (who were otherwise kind, if paternalistic) considered black people to be inferior.

Griffin was a gifted child, and between his truly exceptional memory and perfect pitch, he was admitted into a French boarding school at the age of 15, where he was shocked to see that black students not only attended classes with whites, but patronized the same public places (like cafes) as well. As Griffin later said, “I had simply accepted the ‘customs’ of my region, which said that black people could not eat in the same room with us. It had never occurred to me to question it.”

In France, Griffin trained as a musicologist, specializing in Gregorian chant. As World War II began in 1939, Griffin broadened his focus and also worked with the French Resistance to smuggle Jewish kids to England. He eventually blabbed about his role to the wrong person, though, and escaped France only just before being captured by the Gestapo. In 1941, shortly before the attack on Pearl Harbor, Griffin joined the Army Air Corps.

He then worked as a radio operator in the Pacific before being assigned to the Solomon Islands to work with the indigenous people. Although he studied their languages and customs to better understand them, Griffin said he still “assumed that mine was a superior culture.”

Near the end of the war (in 1945) during an air raid, Griffin was wounded with shrapnel that eventually blinded him. This experience changed him, forcing him to find new talents, resulting in his conversion to Catholicism and enabling him to “see the heart and intelligence of a man, and nothing in these things indicates in the slightest whether a man is white or black.” During the next decade, he married and had four children, whom he supported by lecturing on music history and Gregorian chants, and also writing two novels related to his experiences during the war.

In 1955, Griffin’s medical situation worsened when his legs became paralyzed after a bout of spinal malaria. Rather than giving up hope, he turned to his faith, and in particular the works of Thomas Aquinas. Remarkably, while recovering from the paralysis, Griffin was taking a stroll in his yard when he “saw a swirling redness,” and over the next few months, inexplicably, his sight was restored.

Between his suffering and his studies, by 1959 Griffin had become convinced that he had to “bridge the gap” between the races, and determined that the only way he could do that was to “become a Negro.” Supported by his wife, Griffin consulted a dermatologist who gave him a medication used to darken skin (usually to treat vitiligo, a condition that produces white patches, see: Why Did Michael Jackson’s Skin Turn White?). Griffin also spent hours under a sunlamp and even rubbed a stain into his skin. Since his hair was straight, he shaved that off as well.

After he set off, crossing the South as a black man Griffin was soon engulfed by its extreme racism. As most restaurants, water fountains and bathrooms were no longer available to him, marked and enforced as “Whites only,” he soon realized he had to plan ahead for even the most modest excursion.

His dark skin also resulted in significant changes in the way white people treated him: they were either very polite or absolutely filled with loathing. Of the latter, Griffin described “the hate stare”:

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 . . . .

Of the former, often they would pick Griffin up when he was hitchhiking. Perhaps harboring ulterior motives (such as looking for a sexual partner), according to Griffin most “showed morbid curiosity about the sexual life of the Negro, and all had . . .the same stereotyped image of the Negro as an inexhaustible sex-machine . . . that marital fidelity . . . was exclusively the white man’s property.”

One white man even attempted to justify his lust for black women as follows, “We figure we’re doing you people a favor to get some white blood in your kids.” Griffin, like most of us today, was suitably horrified and characterized this rationale as a “grotesque hypocrisy.”

Not limited to essential services and ridiculous stereotypes, Griffin experienced racism’s economic effects as well. In Mobile, Alabama, while applying for a job, the white foreman told him: “We’re getting you people weeded out from the better jobs at this plant . . . Pretty soon we’ll have it so the only jobs you can get here are the ones no white man would have.”

After Griffin’s trek was over and the story began to leak out, he was interviewed by Time and CBS’s Mike Wallace. Back in his hometown of Dallas, Texas, he was hanged in effigy and threats were made on his life. He fled with his family to Mexico, where he turned the story (some of which had been published in Sepia magazine, which had helped pay for the trip) into the novel that was published as Black Like Me.

Vindicated (at least in the North), the book became a bestseller, was published in 14 languages, made into a movie and eventually was included in high-school curriculums. The New York Times characterized it as an “essential document of contemporary American life.”

Nonetheless, many, especially in the South, remained incensed with Griffin. After Griffin and his family returned to the U.S., in 1964, while on the side of a Mississippi road with a flat tire, Griffin was approached by a group of white men; it was later revealed they were Ku Klux Klansmen who had targeted Griffin; in the end, they beat him so badly with chains that it took him five months to recover from the attack.

Griffin’s health deteriorated in the 1970s and together with diabetes and heart trouble, by 1972, he was bound to a wheelchair due to osteomyelitis. He died in 1980, at the age of 60, of heart failure."

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LTC Stephen F.
LTC Stephen F.
8 mo
Black Like Me "Being a Negro in the south"
Black Like Me, first published in 1961, is a nonfiction book by white journalist John Howard Griffin recounting his journey in the Deep South of the United States, at a time when African-Americans lived under Racial Segregation. It was later adapted after a film.

1. John Howard Griffin as a black man with color image of him as a Caucasian

1. http://www.coursehero.com/lit/Black-Like-Me/author
2. allthatsinteresting.com/john-griffin-black-like-me/

1. Background from {[https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Black-Like-Me/author/]
John Howard Griffin | Biography
Early Life and a French Education
John Howard Griffin was born on June 16, 1920, in Dallas, Texas. His parents, John and Lena Griffin, were both musically inclined: his father performed publicly as an Irish tenor before he took up sales work in the food industry. His mother was a concert pianist and instructor.

Griffin himself was an accomplished musician and an independent thinker at an early age. Dissatisfied with the Texas public high school he attended, he wrote to the Lycée Descartes in Tours, France, seeking admission. His request was granted, and at age of 15 Griffin sailed on his own to Tours to learn French and prepare himself for earning a university education abroad. Upon graduation, Griffin earned scholarships to study literature at the University of Poitiers and medicine at the Ecole de Médecine in Tours. He also combined his interests in music and medicine by working alongside the director of the Asylum of Tours for a study observing the therapeutic effects of Gregorian chants on criminally insane patients.

In the middle of his work at the asylum, World War II (1939–45) broke out. All the French doctors and medical students were drafted, leaving 20-year-old Griffin in charge of more than 100 patients. He became involved with the French Resistance and sometimes used Asylum ambulances to help transport German Jewish refugees through France. This eventually made him a wanted man by the Gestapo. Griffin went into hiding and eventually was smuggled out of France. In Black Like Me, Griffin draws parallels more than once between the violent anti-Semitism he witnessed before escaping German-occupied France and the terrifying racism he experienced in the American South.

The South Pacific
Griffin enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1941 and received training as a radio operator. He was then stationed in the Solomon Islands for 39 months as an intelligence officer and language expert. There, he was assigned to study the native culture and translate the local dialect so the U.S. military could get information about Japanese strategies and positions in the Pacific theater. Griffin's sustained immersion in a foreign culture allowed him to reconsider his initial impression of the Pacific islanders as primitive. Perhaps the most striking example of this change of heart lies in the fact that Griffin married a native woman in a traditional island ceremony. Griffin later dissolved his ties with the woman and never wrote about this short-lived liaison. After converting to Catholicism in 1951, he obtained permission from the Church to remarry. He then married Elizabeth Holland with whom he had four children.

In 1946, while stationed in the South Pacific, Griffin was injured in a bomb explosion that caused him to lose his eyesight completely over the course of the following year. Disabled, he returned to the United States and was forced to abandon plans for a medical career. He returned to France where he sought religious healing in monastic communities and looked for advice from other blind men about how to cope with his new situation. By this time, his parents had moved to a farm in rural Mansfield, Texas, and Griffin lived with them while he adjusted to life as a blind man. He learned Braille and typing skills at the Lighthouse for the Blind in Fort Worth. Griffin also took up farm work, but he was interested in writing. During this sightless decade, he wrote a number of essays, numerous short stories, and two novels. One of these, his autobiographical novel The Devil Rides Outside, was the subject of a landmark Supreme Court case ruling overturning the Obscene Book Act in 1957. That same year, 1957, Griffin's eyesight suddenly returned. For the first time, he saw his wife and four children.

Racial Injustice in America
Griffin's time in the Solomon Islands, his experience as a blind man, and his deepening Catholic faith gave him new perspectives on racial issues in the United States. In the late 1950s, he began writing for Sepia magazine, a photojournalistic publication featuring articles particularly relevant to African American culture. In 1959 Griffin embarked on an ethnographic and sociological study to understand the true experience of being a black man in the American South. He consulted with a dermatologist about how to darken his skin pigmentation temporarily. By combining a medical treatment for vitiligo, long days under an ultraviolet lamp, and a topically applied stain, he successfully darkened his skin and was able to pass as a black man in the South for six weeks. Vitiligo is a skin disorder in which pigment is lost on areas of the skin and which results in white spots or patches on the body. Griffin wrote a series of articles for Sepia magazine based on the journals he kept during his immersion in African American daily life. These articles eventually became the book Black Like Me, published in 1961. This controversial book won him critical acclaim among civil rights activists and humanitarian citizens worldwide. But it also generated threats and violence from white supremacists and segregationists. Griffin was badly beaten by a Ku Klux Klan member in 1975.

Critics were uncertain how to treat Black Like Me, in part because the book's genre was unclear. Griffin sold the piece to Sepia magazine as a photojournalistic study, but the book was also part ethnographic and sociological study and part philosophical treatise on the nature of race relations and the racial and social constructions of identity. Reviews were divided. Some treated Griffin as a daring investigative journalist who risked his life to get an intimate and shocking story. Others were incredulous at the extent of his conversion, arguing that his results were likely tainted by his inability to convince anyone—white or black—that he was a black man. As time has passed, readers have found it increasingly condescending for a white man to presume to understand the black experience in the Jim Crow South of the 1950s based on a limited time spent there as an adult.

After Black Like Me
Griffin spent the years following publication of Black Like Me writing and lecturing internationally about race relations in the United States. He also worked with members of the black and white communities across the country to build bridges of communication in pursuit of greater economic and social justice for African Americans. His dedication to working for a fairer society took its toll on him psychologically and physically. Griffin suffered from diabetes and cardiac trouble for years prior to his death on September 9, 1980. While rumors circulated that he had died from skin cancer caused by the treatments he took to alter his skin pigment, the actual cause of Griffin's death was a cerebral hemorrhage following a series of heart attacks."

2. Background from { https://allthatsinteresting.com/john-griffin-black-like-me/}
" What Happened When A White Man “Became” Black In Mid-20th Century America
By All That's Interesting Published June 16, 2016
Updated June 9, 2020
In an attempt to understand a non-white life in America, John Griffin dyed his skin "black" and set off to the South. His experience, recounted in Black Like Me was, as you might expect, painful.
In November 1959, John Griffin set out on one of the most challenging experiences of his life. Previously, the 39-year-old had served in the U.S. military, where shrapnel caused him to go temporarily blind. But this year, Griffin would do something even more trying: He would live for six weeks as a black man in the American South.
It was blindness that inspired Griffin, a white author and journalist from Dallas, Texas, to write about color in the United States. In 1956, Griffin, blind at the time, sat in on a panel discussion in Mansfield, Texas about desegregation. Unable to tell the speakers’ races from their voices, Griffin began to see color anew.
“The blind,” Griffin would go on to write, “can only see the heart and intelligence of a man, and nothing in these things indicates in the slightest whether a man is white or black.”
And thus an idea was born. In order for the United States to open its eyes to the deterministic weight of color, Griffin decided to “become” a black man and write about it. In order to do so, Griffin did something unprecedented — he altered his pigment.
Under the supervision of a New Orleans-based dermatologist, Griffin would spend a week under a sun lamp, up to 15 hours a day, soaking up UV rays. He would also take Oxsoralen, a prescription drug meant to treat vitiligo, which would aid in expediting the darkening of his skin.
With darker skin, and a shaved head and arms, Griffin set out to the American South — starting in New Orleans and ending in Atlanta. Griffin had a few rules for this journey: Namely, that he would stay at black-only hotels, eat at cafes run by African-Americans, and travel with African-Americans. If anyone asked him what he was doing, he would be honest.
Just as his skin color changed, so too did the treatment he received from others. Describing what he called a “hate stare” he received in a bus station lobby, Griffin wrote:
I walked up to the ticket counter. When the lady ticket-seller saw me, her otherwise attractive face turned sour, violently so. This look was so unexpected and so unprovoked I was taken aback.
‘What do you want?’ she snapped.
Taking care to pitch my voice to politeness, I asked about the next bus to Hattiesburg.
She answered rudely and glared at me with such loathing I knew I was receiving what the Negroes call ‘the hate stare’. It was my first experience with it. It is far more than the look of disapproval one occasionally gets. This was so exaggeratedly hateful I would have been amused if I had not been so surprised.
Griffin added that when he finally got a ticket, he experienced the “hate stare” once more, this time from a “middle-aged, heavy-set, well-dressed white man.” Of this experience, Griffin wrote:
“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.”
Upon his return, Griffin soon became something of a celebrity, being interviewed by Mike Wallace and profiled by Time magazine — but that national notoriety also spelled danger for Griffin and his family.
In Mansfield, where Griffin lived, he and his family received death threats; at one point he was even hung in effigy. That overt hostility eventually forced Griffin and his family to move to Mexico, where he compiled his findings into a book.
That book was called Black Like Me. Published in 1961 and since translated into 14 languages and a film, the harrowing stories within its pages, coupled with Griffin’s own transformation, generated strong (if not polarizing) public responses.
Some critics thought John Griffin’s “revelations” were nothing new, and that his trip was little more than a masquerade. Others, such as The New York Times‘ Dan Wakefield wrote that in order to understand the headline-making “outbreaks of racial conflict,” people needed to first “be aware of the routine torments of discrimination as they plague they everyday life of particular individuals,” which is what Wakefield believed Griffin’s book did.
Griffin would spend the remainder of his life traveling and speaking about his sojourn — and the negative responses were always with him.
One day in 1964, Griffin was traveling in Mississippi when he got a flat tire. He stood by the side of the road waiting for help, when “a group dragged him away and beat him with chains,” Griffin’s biographer and friend Robert Bonazzi told the Houston Chronicle, leaving him for dead.
Griffin faced plenty more adversity before dying 16 years later, of a heart attack, at the age of 60.
Decades later, the book and its author have fallen under inevitable scrutiny. What was once regarded as groundbreaking and sympathetic can just as easily be described as patronizing minstrelsy today.
As Sarfaz Manzoor of The Guardian writes:
“Today the idea of a white man darkening his skin to speak on behalf of black people might appear patronizing, offensive and even a little comical.
Griffin felt that by blacking up he had ‘tampered with the mystery of existence’, which sounded profound when I read it at 16, but now seems typical of Griffin’s rather portentous prose, which occasionally makes one doubt the credibility of what he is describing.”
Still, as Manzoor writes, we live in a world where “routine torments of discrimination” continue to occur. For that reason and in spite of its flaws, Black Like Me will remain a vital text for the foreseeable future."

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I remember going by train in 1955 from Fort Leonard Wood to Fort Campbell that the train stopped in Paducah, KY. We all were thirsty and I noticed at the train station the water fountains separate. One said whites the other said colored. Being from an area of NW Indiana I had been around black people so I choose to drink from the fountain saying colored because mostly there was no line. Oh boy. Caught you know what because of that from the others. I didn't care then and don't care now. We are one. Not separate. Until everyone learns that we will have division in this great country of ours. Thanks for the rant.

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