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Black Like Me (1964)

Based on the true story of a white reporter who, at the height of the civil-rights movement, temporarily darkened his skin so that he could experience the realities of a black man's life in the segregated South.




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Cast overview, first billed only:
Dr. Jackson
Ed Saunders
Eli Carr
John Marriott ...
Thelma Oliver ...
Lucy Horton (as Lenka Petersen)
P. Jay Sidney ...
Frank Newcomb (as P.J. Sidney)
Billie Allen ...
Alan Bergmann ...
Charles Maynard


Black Like Me is the true account of John Griffin's experiences when he passed as a black man. John Horton takes treatments to darken his skin and leaves his home in Texas to travel throughout the South. At one stop, Horton encounters a black shoe shine man, Burt Wilson, who befriends him and shows him how to "act right" so that he can fit more easily into the African American culture. It is through Wilson that Horton learns the art of shining shoes. Most of his encounters with whites are quite degrading and disturb him. As a hitchhiker, John meets several white men who refer to black men and women in disparaging ways which angers John. Throughout the movie, John is harassed and persecuted by whites without reason. In one of his many stops throughout the South, John finds himself on a park bench sitting by a white woman. A white man walks by and says, "You'd better find another place to sit." Even though he had a college degree, menial jobs were all that he could find. John meets ... Written by Broncine G. Carter

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


"I changed the color of my skin... now I know what it feels like to be BLACK!" See more »








Release Date:

20 May 1964 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Czarny jak ja  »

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Production Co:

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Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Final film of Ralph Dunn. See more »


When Horton, after meeting the PhD student, opens his wallet to pay in the diner, something falls out of it near the counter. No one notices or refers to it. See more »


Referenced in Murphy Brown: Brown Like Me: Part 2 (1989) See more »

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User Reviews

Good performance by Whitmore.
27 October 1999 | by See all my reviews

James Whitmore gives a good performance as a white man who is given medical treatments to turn the pigmentation of his skin to resemble that of an African American. Based on the fine book by John Howard Griffin he heads off to the south to see what being a black person in the U.S. is like.

The film recently aired on AMC. It is somewhat dated and Whitmore doesn't appear to be any thing other than a Caucasian with dark make up on. The film nonetheless is quite good as it examines his journey through the south. He encounters prejudice at virtually every stop. The film tends to lag at certain points but still delivers a powerful story. Read the book first then see this early 60's picture

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