Black like me - John Howard Griffin

Black like me - John Howard Griffin

Before : John is on his way to Mississippi by bus, with a few other black and white persons. A little argument took place between a well dressed Black called Christophe and another Negro.

Finally, Christophe takes a seat next to John assuming he is a preacher, because of his appearance. The other Negroes in the bus think that Christophe is a liar, because he first says his mother is French, than Portuguese. He tries to guess Johns origins, which makes John a bit nervous, but Christophe is all wrong in saying "Florida, Navaho". Christophe's confidence is growing and he confesses, that he had gone to jail for four years and is now returning to his wife in Slidell. He is crying, which shows his emotions, despite his arrogant way of arguing with the other man a few minutes ago. He has not been inside a church for 17 years and now he cannot do so, because he has to kill some men in town. Christophe gets off at Slidell, where everyone has to change bus.

In the next bus, a Negro called Bill Williams sits next to John. Tension between the Negroes has disappeared since Christophe left the bus. A discussion about the dangers in Mississippi is starting. Bill gives John some advice such as not to stop if white boys would yell obscenities at him.

During a ten minute bus stop, everyone wants to go to the rest room. There is also one for the black people, but when all the Negroes want to get off, the driver blocks their way out of the bus and says that their ticket does not allow them to get off. Only Bill manages to get outside. So one of them starts urinating in the bus, but this is not approved by the others. When Bill comes back, the driver is asking him why he left the bus. Bill explains he has not heard the driver calling his name, since the driver called him "Boy". This behaviour made Bill become a hero in the eyes of the other black passengers. The solidarity between them is growing and so is the distance to the white passengers. Reaching Poplarville, they discuss about the prison where the Black had been lynched. In fact, they are passing the town so much talked about in the papers where the jury had not even cared to look at the FBI papers before releasing the gang of Whites; thus, to the Blacks, the verdict is an encouragement for the Whites to ill-treat the Negroes.

Finally they arrive at Hattiesburg on the next morning. Bill is giving John some last advice such as where he should go first and whom he should request to see. Bill will visit him on the next midday to see if everything is fine. John is surprised by all this attention given to him. As soon as John is on the street alone, white men are insulting him and he can feel a big tension creeping up. He swiftly enters the store of his second contact, and he is starting a discussion with him. A well-dressed man tells him, that there is a room ready for him. After a short walk, John gets to his room, which is not in good shape, but supposedly safe.