Black Like Me | Study Guide

John Howard Griffin

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Black Like Me | Characters

Character Description
John Howard Griffin John Howard Griffin, a white writer from Texas, is the narrator of Black Like Me. In this book, he chronicles his experiences living as a black man in the South. Read More
George Levitan George Levitan is the owner of Sepia, a black-audience magazine based in Fort Worth, Texas. Read More
Sterling Williams Sterling Williams is the New Orleans shoeshine "boy" Griffin confides in after he darkens his skin. Williams takes Griffin under his wing to orient him to critical information he needs before living as an African American in the South. Read More
P.D. East P.D. East is a newspaperman in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, to whom Griffin turns when his morale hits new lows in Mississippi. Read More
Don Rutledge Don Rutledge is the photographer from the Black Star photo agency hired by Sepia magazine to shoot all the photos for Griffin's story and for a story Griffin writes about black civic and business leaders in Atlanta. Read More
T.M. Alexander T.M. Alexander is a prominent leader in the Atlanta insurance industry featured in Griffin's article about Atlanta's black civic and business leaders. Alexander says to Griffin, "If we know anything, it is that if virtues do not equal powers, the powers will be misused."
Curtis Bok Curtis Bok is a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice who sends Griffin a copy of his controversial speech to Radcliffe College graduates in 1960.
Christophe Christophe is a worldly and dapper black provocateur whom Griffin encounters on the bus from New Orleans to Hattiesburg. He speaks loudly and disparagingly about other black people but confides in Griffin about his plans to "shoot up a couple of guys" and leave the country.
Paul Coates Paul Coates is a journalist known for his television talk show Confidential File. Griffin is a guest on his show in March 1960.
Foy Curry Foy Curry is the owner of a local café in Griffin's hometown that bears the sign WE DON'T SERVE NEGROES. After Griffin's story goes public, Curry adds "NO ALBINOS" to the café's signage, indicating that he considers Griffin to be pathologically white because he is willing to cross the color line and associate with African Americans.
Rev. A.L. Davis Griffin meets Rev. A.L. Davis at the YMCA café in New Orleans. Davis is a black civic leader in the city, and he explains to Griffin that New Orleans' cosmopolitan population and strong Catholic presence make it more enlightened about race than most Southern cities.
Mrs. Davis Mrs. Davis is a kind middle-aged widow who provides Griffin with a private room on his first night living as a black man in New Orleans.
Pierre Dumayet Pierre Dumayet is a French television commentator who interviews Griffin at his home in Mansfield, Texas, for the program Cinq Colonnes à la Une.
Billie East Billie East is the wife of P.D. East and offers Griffin hospitality during a particularly grueling time in Mississippi.
Sam Gandy Sam Gandy is the Dean of historically black Dillard University in New Orleans. P.D. East introduces Griffin to him, and Griffin tells him about his project.
Mr. Gayle Mr. Gayle is a black bookstore owner whom Griffin meets at the YMCA café in New Orleans. He asks Griffin, "What do you see as our biggest problem?" to which Griffin responds, a "lack of unity."
Harry Golden Harry Golden, a writer and newspaper publisher known for speaking out against racial segregation, features Griffin in his 1960 television documentary.
Griffin's mother Lena Griffin is not mentioned by name, but in the book she is harassed on the phone by a racist woman trying to intimidate and shame Griffin's family after his story goes public.
Griffin's wife Elizabeth Griffin is not named in the book, but she is mentioned several times as a source of support for her husband, understanding the importance of his undertaking despite the fact that it puts their family at risk.
J.P. Guillory J.P. Guillory is a black insurance man who approaches Griffin at the YMCA café and asks about the books Griffin has written. Guillory recognizes one of the titles, and when he looks perplexed, Griffin says, "I promise you I wrote it. I can't tell you more, but read the book, and the piece in last September's Reader's Digest, and you'll know who I really am."
Benn Hall Benn Hall is in charge of public relations at Sepia magazine. Griffin spends a lot of time with him during the rush of public attention after his story is released.
Adelle Jackson Adelle Jackson is the editorial director at Sepia magazine. She is one of the first to see the potential dangers Griffin would be facing, both during his travels as a black man and as the author who would become the target of hate groups once his story came out.
Joe Joe is Sterling Williams's partner at the shoeshine stand. He shows Griffin how to be resourceful in the streets of New Orleans.
L.A. Jones L.A. and Penn Jones are friends and neighbors of the Griffin family.
Penn Jones Penn and L.A. Jones are friends and neighbors of the Griffin family. Penn Jones calls to tie up the Griffin family's phone line the day that Griffin's story is published so that no hate calls can get through.
Claude Loursais Claude Loursais is the director of the show Cinq Colonnes à la Une who accompanies Dumayet to Mansfield, Texas, for the interview with Griffin.
Dr. Benjamin Mays Dr. Benjamin Mays is the president of Morehouse College featured in Griffin's article about Atlanta's civic and business leaders.
Decherd Turner Decherd Turner is the director of the Bridwell Library at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He offers Griffin a place to work when tensions in Griffin's hometown make it necessary for him and his family to leave for a while.
A.T. Walden A.T. Walden is a prominent civil rights lawyer in Atlanta featured in Griffin's article about Atlanta's black civic and business leaders.
Mike Wallace Mike Wallace, a prominent television newsperson, interviews Griffin directly after his story is made public. Griffin writes of the experience, "Never have I been handled more superbly by an interviewer."
Bill Williams Bill Williams is a friendly young man who sits next to Griffin on the bus from Slidell to Hattiesburg. He and other passengers give Griffin tips on how to survive in Mississippi once they discover he is new to the area.
Rev. Samuel Williams Rev. Samuel Williams is the pastor at Friendship Baptist Church featured in Griffin's article about Atlanta's civic and business leaders.
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