Black Like Me: Jan 2 - Mar 23, 1960

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Summary of The Aftermath, January 2– March 23, 1960

 

The Aftermath, 1960

January 2

Griffin meets with Levitan, the owner of Sepia magazine, and the editorial director, Mrs. Jackson. Although Sepia magazine paid for Griffin’s trip, and Griffin promised he would publish articles about it in the magazine, Levitan gives him one last chance to back out. Once his story is made public, Griffin may be in danger from retaliation by angry whites. Griffin decides he must run the articles in any case. Sepia magazine is widely read by Southern blacks, and Griffin’s articles will send a message that the world cares about their problem.

 

February 26

Griffin spends weeks working on the scientific research data he collected during his travels in the South. In the end, he decides that the best way to share his findings is to throw away the statistics and simply publish the story of his experiences. The news of Griffin’s experiment has broken, and he is invited to appear on a Hollywood talk show with host Paul Coates.

 

March 14, Los Angeles

The first segment of Griffin’s talk show interview airs on television, and Griffin holds his breath, fearing abusive phone calls. He receives a call from the writer Penn Jones and his wife, and then another from his parents. They are proud of Griffin, but afraid for him, too. After that, no friends or family call. The silence is ominous.

 

March 17, New York

Griffin flies to New York for an interview with Time magazine and prepares for another televised interview with journalist Dave Garroway. He calls home to Mansfield, Texas, and learns that his mother has received a threatening phone call from an anonymous woman saying that Griffin had best not show his face in Mansfield again. Sickened, Griffin calls the police and asks for surveillance of his and his parents’ home.

 

March 18

Griffin has a televised interview with journalist Dave Garroway. Before they begin, Garroway tells Griffin that he need only be concerned with one thing: telling the honest truth. Griffin is impressed by Garroway’s pointed questions that do not evade the issue. By the end of the interview, both men are deeply moved.

 

March 23

The following weekend, Griffin is busy with interviews and conferences. He does a TV documentary with Harry Golden, the Mike Wallace show, and then a long radio interview. The Time article comes out, and Griffin is relieved to see that the story is good—it is told right and straight. He’s very worried about the Mike Wallace show, but it goes very well.

 

Analysis of The Aftermath, January 2–March 23, 1960

The final entries of Griffin’s journal deal with the “aftermath” of his experiment—what happens to him after he resumes his normal life as a white man and prepares for the impact his story will make. The words of George Levitan again create suspense, as he warns what may happen after Griffin’s story breaks.

 

Griffin explains why he decided to present his findings as a personal story rather than as a scientific research project. As readers will note, the diary form created more interest and sympathy than a more scientific paper could have done. 

 

In recounting some details from his interviews with the press, Griffin shows just how much mainstream publicity he received. While Griffin’s articles appeared in Sepia, a magazine with circulation among mostly African-American readers, his interviews with Time magazine and nationally syndicated television news programs gave Griffin an audience in every home, black and white, across America. The reception from news agencies was positive and very supportive. However, the reaction in Griffin’s Texas hometown was less than enthusiastic, as the threatening phone call received by Griffin’s mother indicates.

 

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