30 Days a Black Man: The Forgotten Story That Exposed the Jim Crow South

30 Days a Black Man: The Forgotten Story That Exposed the Jim Crow South


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In 1948 most white people in the North had no idea how unjust and unequal daily life was for the 10 million African Americans living in the South. But that suddenly changed after Ray Sprigle, a famous white journalist from Pittsburgh, went undercover and lived as a black man in the Jim Crow South.

Escorted through the South’s parallel black society by John Wesley Dobbs, a historic black civil rights pioneer from Atlanta, Sprigle met with sharecroppers, local black leaders, and families of lynching victims. He visited ramshackle black schools and slept at the homes of prosperous black farmers and doctors.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter’s series was syndicated coast to coast in white newspapers and carried into the South only by the Pittsburgh Courier, the country’s leading black paper. His vivid descriptions and undisguised outrage at "the iniquitous Jim Crow system" shocked the North, enraged the South, and ignited the first national debate in the media about ending America’s system of apartheid.

Six years before Brown v. Board of Education, seven years before the murder of Emmett Till, and thirteen years before John Howard Griffin’s similar experiment became the bestseller Black Like Me, Sprigle’s intrepid journalism blasted into the American consciousness the grim reality of black lives in the South.

Author Bill Steigerwald elevates Sprigle’s groundbreaking exposé to its rightful place among the seminal events of the early Civil Rights movement.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781493038824
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 02/01/2019
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.70(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Bill Steigerwald’s thirty-six-year career as a journalist included stints with the Los Angeles Times, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. At the Trib he was an associate editor, feature writer, book page editor/writer, editorial writer, weekly op-ed columnist and weekly interviewer of important newsmakers. His work has appeared in dozens of major American papers and in magazines as disparate as Reason, Family Circle, Men’s Journal, and Penthouse. He lives just outside of Pittsburgh.

Table of Contents

Foreword Juan Williams ix

Chapter 1 Jim Crow, U.S.A 1

Chapter 2 Ray Sprigle, Star Reporter 15

Chapter 3 Pittsburgh in White and Black 33

Chapter 4 "Mr. NAACP" 53

Chapter 5 Learning to Become a Negro 64

Chapter 6 Teaming Up with Mr. Dobbs 75

Chapter 7 The Poor, Poor South 88

Chapter 8 Atlanta in Black and White 104

Chapter 9 On the Road to Americus 113

Chapter 10 An Oasis in the Desert of Injustice 129

Chapter 11 Sneaking Through the Delta 144

Chapter 12 America's "Last Outpost of Feudalism" 158

Chapter 13 The Long Reach of "White Malice" 169

Chapter 14 Nominating "President Dewey" 183

Chapter 15 Waking Up the White North 192

Chapter 16 A Civil War over Civil Rights 203

Chapter 17 Telling Sprigle's Story to Black America 215

Chapter 18 Sticking Up for Old Jim Crow 231

Chapter 19 Truman's November Surprise 247

Chapter 20 The Great Radio Debate 257

Chapter 21 A Mission Forgotten by History 271

Epilogue 284

Bibliography 298

Index 302

About the Author 316

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