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John Howard Griffin was a journalist and a specialist on race issues After publication he became a leading advocate in the Civil Rights Movement and did much to promote awareness of the racial situations and pass legislature He was middle aged and living in Mansfield Texas at the time of publication in 1960 His desire to know if Southern whites were racist against the Negro population of the Deep South or if they really judged people based on the individuals personality as they said they prompted him to cross the color line and write Black Like Me Since communication between the white and African American races did not exist neither race really knew what it was like for the other Due to this Griffin felt the only way to know the truth was to become a black man and travel through the South The internationally distributed Negro magazine Sepia in exchange for the right to print excerpts from the finished product financed his trip After three weeks in the Deep South as a black man John Howard Griffin produced a 188-page journal covering his transition into the black race his travels and experiences in the South the shift back into white society and the reaction of those he knew prior his knowing the book was published and released John Howard Griffin began this novel as a white man on October 28 1959 and became a black man with the help of a noted dermatologist on November 7 He entered black society in New Orleans through his contact Sterling a shoeshine boy that he had met in the days prior to the medication taking full effect Griffin stayed with Sterling at the shine stand for a few days to become assimilated into the society and to learn more about the attitude and mindset of the common black man After one week of trying to find work other than menial labor he left to travel throughout the
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