History: Blacks Like Me (Essay Sample)
John Howard Griffin, Black Like Me (1962) – due April 7
As background on the civil rights struggle and the racial situation in the South in the late 1950s, read the excerpt from Woodard, American Nations, on the back of this sheet.
1. After carefully reading these instructions, read Black Like Me in the following order: Robert Bonazzi’s afterword (pp. 195-200); the author’s preface; the diary/work itself (pp. 1-164); and Griffin’s epilogue (pp. 165-194). Take notes as you read!
Write a double-spaced, typed paper of 1,200 words that includes the elements listed below. Put page numbers in parentheses as you refer to or quote the text.
In the p. 1 top right corner: your name, SFC History 1201-15, the word count of your paper.
2. Identify and discuss three things that surprised you the most in Griffin’s experiences in the racial situation in the deep South in 1959-1960.
3. Describe what you think were Griffin’s three most important learnings as a human and white man from his experiences as a “black man.”
4. Give an example of a courageous person that Griffin met during his travels. How did this person deal with and overcome his/her fears?
5. Do you agree or disagree with the way Griffin went about his experiment of being a black man? What, if anything, troubles you about his method? What do you find most commendable?
6. From reading Griffin’s epilogue, what would you say were the major frustrations he experienced after his work was published and he began traveling and speaking in the 1960s?
7. Summarize, in 2-3 sentences, what you think the book’s “enduring message” is.
8. If you were to do an experiment today similar to Griffin’s in 1959-1960, where would you go—and why? (Assume that you can easily assume another race, gender, identity—don’t worry about how this could practically be done!)
January 20, 2015 (over)
“In 1955 the three nations of the Dixie bloc [in the U.S. South] were still authoritarian states whose citizens – white and black – were required to uphold a rigid, all-pervasive apartheid system. Across the bloc adult blacks were required to refer to even teenage whites as ‘Mister,’ ‘Miss,’ or ‘Missus,’ while whites were forbidden to address blacks of any age with these titles, using ‘boy,’ ‘Auntie,’ or ‘Uncle’ instead. Blacks and whites were prohibited from dining, dating, worshipping, playing baseball, or attending school together. The caste system required that blacks and whites use separate drinking fountains, rest rooms, waiting rooms, and building entrances; that factories maintain separate production lines, with blacks unable to be promoted into ‘white’ positions regardless of experience, merit, or seniority; and that theaters, lunch counters, restaurants, railroad companies, and public bus systems maintain separate seating by race. In Mississippi it was illegal to print, publish, or distribute ‘suggestions in favor of social equality or of intermarriage between whites and Negroes,’ with perpetrators subject to up to six months in prison. Klansmen and other vigilante groups tortured and executed blacks who violated these rules, often with the public approval of elected officials, newspaper editors, preachers, and the region’s leading families. White violators faced legal penalties and, worse, the social ostracism that resulted from having one’s family branded ‘nigger lovers.’ Dixie’s white religious leaders, with few exceptions, either bestowed divine endorsement on this system or kept silent.
“African Americans in the Deep South led the movement, challenging apartheid policies across the region: the discrimination on Montgomery, Alabama’s, public buses (1955-56); the ban on black students at Little Rock Central High School (1957), in Orleans Parish, Louisiana, elementary schools (1960), and at the universities of Georgia (1961) and Mississippi (1962); the segregation of businesses and suppression of the right of assembly in Birmingham, Alabama (1963); and, perhaps most poignantly, the bloody voting-rights protests in Selma, Alabama (1965). The majority of the movement’s most famous figures were Deep Southerners, including the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. (from Atlanta), John Lewis (southern Alabama), James Meredith (central Mississippi), and Rosa Parks (Tuskegee, Alabama). They were backed by civil rights activists, white and black, from New Netherland … and Yankeedom (Malcolm X). President John F. Kennedy and Attorney General Robert Kennedy … provided crucial support from the White House and a blueprint for the Appalachian Texan Lyndo
SFC History 1201-15
History: Blacks Like Me
The nonfiction book, “Blacks Like Me” written by HYPERLINK "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Howard_Griffin" \o "John Howard Griffin"John Howard Griffin talks of his experience with the effects of racial segregation in some towns in his native country. It encompasses the interaction between the whites and blacks. He tried to communicate the grievances to see how trivial skin color could lead other be mistreated and mishandled as if they were no human. Griffin carried the experiment of racism by changing his skin color. The current paper seeks to explore Griffin’s experiences with the aspect of racial segregation and providing opinions on understanding of the reading.
It is surprising that black adults could salute young white teenagers with salutation words such as “sir”, miss” or “missus”. The blacks could not receive the same respect from the white youngsters. The young Whiteman children were advised not to refer to older black men and women as sir or madams, “Mr.” or “missus” (Griffin, 1962). They were advised to use simple words including “boy”, “aunt” and “uncle”. That indicates high level of disrespect to black people who were regarded as second class citizen.
Secondly, blacks and whites could not dine, party, study, date, worship or play baseball together. The social system required that blacks and whites use different drinking fountains, rest rooms, waiting rooms and even building entrances. There different production lines for the blacks and for the whites. The whites received promotion even without having any form of merits or experiences. The case was difficult for the blacks; they were disregarded for promotions. When it came to the mode of commuting, the white were never allowed to travel in the same seats.
Moreover, there were no intermarriages between the two races. Heavy penalties were subjected to those who print, publish, distribute of material that would push to or suggest the union ship between the whites and the ‘negroes. The perpetrators were to be jailed for six months. No materials were allowed to advocate from any form of togetherness between the white and the blacks, not even for marriages. The blacks who broke the law were extremely tortured by the Klansmen and...
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