NOTES on Black Like Me

by David H. Kessel

Black Like Me---35th Anniversary Edition---1996
(Published by Signet, an imprint of New American Library, a division of Penquin Putnam, Inc.)
ISBN: 0-451-19203-6

For a short overview of Black Like Me...go HERE

(For a black and white and no "gaps" PRINTABLE version, go HERE)

Sections and Journal Entries

Preface
The Idea and Planning
New Orleans and Getting Ready
Coming/Going Out
On to Mississippi
Quick trip to New Orleans
Back to Mississippi
Mobile and Alabama
Montgomery, Alabama: Passing back and forth
Back to White/Atlanta/Pictures
Home to Mansfield
Back to Work: News out and Publicity
Meanwhile: Back at Home
Epilogue: 1977
Afterword: 1997
Death

























Preface

Preface
---very important...sociological perspective articulated (i.e. Insider/Outsider Debate)
---“social relation” beneath or behind the surface reality

























The Idea and Planning

10/28/59---p7
---considering to do it
---speculating on report of “suicide tendency” increasing among southern negroes
---decision to do it
---admits he knows nothing of the Negro’s problems or life

10/29---p8
---goes to see George Levitan of Sepia Magazine in Ft Worth
---makes deal with Levitan...underwrite cost for exchange of publishing
---talks to Adelle Jackson...an editor
---goes home and tells his wife...she accepts what he intends to do

10/30---p10
---meets with Levitan, Jackson, and two FBI agents from Dallas
---didn’t expect any help from FBI, just wanted them to know
---not change name or identity
---if asked, would tell the truth

























New Orleans and Getting Ready

11/1---p10
---arrives in New Orleans---checks into Hotel Monteleone in the Quarter
---walks and eats...now as seeing...before as only blind
---calls friend and arranges to use his house instead of the hotel

11/2---p11
---found dermatologist willing to help
---oral medication with exposures to ultraviolet rays
---needed accelerated doses and rays...because of time factor
---medication used to treat vitiligo (white spots on skin)
---got prescription filled...took 2 tablets...two hours later, first rays treatment
---had arrangement with host...didn’t want to involve him for fear of later reprisals
---walk into Negro sections
---major thought: how to “enter” the negro world...”pass over”

11/6---p13
---past four days...sun lamp treatments
---at doctor’s office...all is going okay
---Dr expressing doubts about the whole thing
---Dr expresses some racist beliefs
---walking streets to orient himself
---meets Sterling Williams...shoeshiner
---likes Sterling...considers him possible “entry” into the Negro community

























Coming/Going Out

11/7---p14
---last visit to Dr...more doubts and regrets from Dr
---decides to shave his head
---Dr offers help if gets in trouble
---Dr said...”Now you go into oblivion”
---shaved head...applied stain touch-ups
---looked at himself in the mirror for first time
------was shocked and fearful...an observer and the observed
---at midnight...went out as a “negro” for the first time
---stood by white man...no problems...around other negroes...no problems
---started to experience the “differences”
---checked into the Sunset Hotel...barren and windowless, but clean room
---tried to sleep...but couldn’t
---went to common bathroom...met and conversed with another Negro
---felt less lonely and back to room...finally fell asleep

11/8---p22
---out and about...eating and meeting people
---to the Quarter...went to Sterling’s shoeshine stand
---reveals his identity to Sterling
---Sterling’s “coaching” begins
---gets room in private home next to YMCA
---meets men in Y Cafe
---tells “truth” about himself to a Mr. Guillory
---followed by white boy bully
---back to room

11/10-12---p42
---looking for jobs...no luck
---more discussions in Y Cafe...meets Mr. Gayle
---more experiences in public
---bus driver wouldn’t let him off...only 8 blocks later

























On to Mississippi

11/14---p48
---reflections on his experiences
---decides to go to Mississippi
---trouble cashing a Traveler’s Check
---experiences “hate stare” for first time...then a second time
---difficulty buying a ticket...but finally did
---directed to the “colored cafe”...the negro waiting room
---meets “Christophe” on the bus
---denied going to bathroom at rest stop
---arrives in Hattiesburg...goes to Negro Quarter
---got room...couldn’t stay in the despair
---called P.D. East who came to pick him up
---talked and then read all night long...The Magnolia Jungle by East

11/15---p78
---spent day at P.D.’s house...talking and reading

























Quick Trip to New Orleans

11/16---p80
---back to New Orleans with P.D.
---met Dean Gandy of Dillard University in NOLA
---bus ticket to Biloxi, Mississippi

























Back to Mississippi

11/19---p84
---hitchhiking in Mississippi
---refused bathroom at custard stand
---more rides...conversations about sexuality
---asked to expose himself to a white man...refused
---into Alabama on way to Mobile
---rode with very nice white man...all the way to downtown Mobile
---shares room with nice black man

























Mobile and Alabama

11/21---p99
---spent three days in Mobile
---walking, looking, applying for jobs

11/24---p101
---hitchhiking to Montgomery
---got ride from racist white man...more sexuality talk and threats
---late evening...no rides...finally young black man stopped
---invited to man’s house for the night...with his family
---a wonderful and moving/emotional time with parents and the children
---the sharing of the Milky Way bars...had a party
---was Griffin’s daughter’s 5th birthday that day
---lots of thoughtful observations and ideas
---continuation of “nightmares”...worried him
---bought bus ticket to Montgomery via Selma, Alabama
---called his wife in Selma during layover
---noticed wearing off of color...started thinking of the “end”

























Montgomery, Alabama: Passing Back and Forth

11/25---p118
---in Montgomery, Alabama
---observed a “new atmosphere”: one of “a determined spirit of passive resistance”
---many “hate stares”

11/27---p120
---decides to “pass back” into white

11/28---p120
---actually does “become white again”...temporarily...in Montgomery, Alabama
---passes for white successfully

11/29---p123
---Montgomery seemed “different”...now a white man again
---went to black neighborhood as a white and experienced hatred in reverse

12/1---p124
---developed going back and forth...
---in daytime...as a Negro...at night in same areas, as a white man
---bus to Tuskegee, Ala....trouble with “liberal” white man...i.e. turkeys
---on to Atlanta, Georgia
---tense moments on bus about seating arrangements for blacks and white women
---decides to end it completely...Atlanta
---changed back to white

























Back to White/Atlanta/Pictures

12/2---p131
---calls Sepia...Leviton
---goes to Trappist Monastery
---as white, sees what he’s been experiencing happen to Negroes
---interesting conversation with Monk
---another nightmare

12/4---p135
---driven back to Atlanta
---awaiting photographer (Rutledge) to do story on Atlanta’s black business and civic leaders

12/7---p136
---in Atlanta...reflections on racial situation and changes there

12/9---p142
---had photos taken of him in New Orleans...skinned darkened
---revisited numerous places...with Rutledge...had to be careful and clandestine about taking pictures

12/14---p143
---returns to white for final time...he’s done
---feels sadness (guilt?) for returning to white

























Home to Mansfield

12/15---p144
---returns home to Mansfield, Texas...family

























Back to Work: News is Out and Publicity

1/2/60---p145
---Leviton gives Griffin an “out”...to forget publishing the results
---Griffin says it should be published

2/26---p145
---the news is out...has first TV interview scheduled

3/14---p146
---appears on TV show in LA
---does second one next day

3/17---p146
---to NY...interview with Time Magazine
---mother has received “threat” call in Texas

3/18---p147
---appears on Dave Garroway show on TV in NY

3/23---p148
---does The Mike Wallace Show...went very well

























Meanwhile: Back at Home

4/1---p151
---at home...having no contact with townsfolk
---mail very much positive

4/2---p152
---learns he has been hung in effigy on Main St. in Mansfield
---otherwise, townsfolk still fairly quiet about it
---took family to Dallas...to do some work

4/7---p155
---arrive in Dallas for four days...stayed with family friends

4/11---p155
---back to Mansfield...determined not to hide anymore
---things fairly calm
---lots of supportive mail

6/19---p156
---Father’s Day
---of 6000 letters so far, only 9 were abusive
---neighbors and townsfold either supportive, abusive, or just silent

8/14---p158
---parents sold home and moved to Mexico
---Griffin and family to go, too...but he waited alone to see if threats were carried out
---didn’t want to be accused of being “chased” out

8/17---p158
---last entry
---no threats ever carried out...they never “came” for him
---cleaned out final stuff with aid of black youth
---final expressions

























Epilogue

Epilogue---pp161-188 in 1977
---Griffin’s reflections and experiences on the Civil Rights Movement
---17 years after his experiment (participant observation)
---very insightful and interesting ideas

























Afterword

Afterword---pp189-192 in 1997 by Robert Bonazzi
---written by friend and “official biographer”
---interesting reflections
---wrote book about Griffin...Man in the Mirror

























Death

September 9, 1980---John Howard Griffin dies