What experiment did Howard Griffin conduct?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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When you refer to “Howard Griffin,” I assume that you are talking about the man whose full name was John Howard Griffin.  Griffin is famous as the author of the book Black Like Me.

In 1959, Griffin did what might be called conducting an experiment.  He was a white man, but he did various things to make himself appear to be an African American.  He wanted to conduct this experiment because he wanted to understand what it would truly be like to be an African American in the South in those days.  This was just before the real beginning of the Civil Rights Movement.  There was still legalized segregation across the South.  Griffin felt that there was no way that he or any other white American could truly understand the experiences of African Americans in the South.  They could not understand what it truly felt like to be black.  In order to gain more of an understanding of this, Griffin passed himself off as an African American.

Griffin’s actions remain controversial to this day, but his book remains very well-known.


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