Study Guide

Black Like Me Chapter 20

By John Howard Griffin

Chapter 20

December 1, 1959

  • Secret agent John Griffin spends the next couple of days crossing enemy lines. One day he's black, and the next day he's white. Who knows what wonders or terrors he'll see next in his role as Mr. Race-Switching Man!
  • Okay, he's not quite a superhero but Griffin does switch between races during this chapter. When he's white, white people love him and black people hate him. And vice versa when he's black.
  • One day as a black guy Griffin visits the Tuskegee Institute, where he notices that the students are more serious about their learning than at most white universities. That's probably because their ancestors weren't even allowed to read until recently.
  • While he's there, Griffin meets a white PhD who has come down from New York to observe black people. No one wants to talk to him because he's pretty sketchy, and he keeps talking about "brotherhood," whatever that means.
  • While Griffin talks to him everyone else is standing around looking at the guy with disapproval. He keeps saying that he's one of them, but after talking with Griffin for a couple of minutes he reveals himself to be just as racist as everyone else.
  • Later, Griffin heads to Atlanta on a bus. A fight is just about to break out because some white women who boarded the bus don't want to sit next to the black people, but luckily nothing happens. After everything is over, a white man says that he would've stuck up for them, but nobody thanks him because he didn't stick up for them when he was needed.
  • Griffin changes back into a white guy in a bathroom in Atlanta.