Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
30 Days a Black Man: The Forgotten Story That Exposed the Jim Crow South Hardcover – April 1, 2017
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
As a story from the Jim Crow past, Bill Steigerwald’s recounting of Sprigle’s mission . . . reminds us of what an honest conversation about race can accomplish as we continue on the path toward a more equitable future. (Juan Williams, political analyst and author of Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965)
This is a vivid, well-researched account of a journalistic coup. White Ray Sprigle passing for black in the Jim Crow South—the danger, the narrow escapes, the abuses, the revelations. But it is also a set of portraits: of the brave black men who helped Sprigle fulfill his assignment; a portrait of the Deep South; and a portrait of the United States in the late 1940s. (Paul Theroux, travel writer, novelist, and author of Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads)
Bill Steigerwald is an author who always delights and informs, here recounting the frightening story of two courageous men, one black and the other a white Pittsburgh newspaper reporter posing as black, traveling through the Jim Crow South of 1948 to expose a vicious and brutal system of racial segregation. (David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize winner and best-selling author)
The courage displayed by Ray Sprigle and John Wesley Dobbs on their journey into the Deep South is one of the major feats of investigative journalism during the pre-Civil Rights era. Bill Steigerwald’s book is an unflinching examination of race relations in this country’s recent past and the true impact that uncompromising journalism can have on our world. (Jesse Holland, author of Black Men Built the Capitol and The Invisibles: The Untold Story of African American Slaves in the White House)
A fascinating account of an anti-Jim Crow muckraking adventure…Sprigle's audacity was forgotten, but Steigerwald turns it into rollicking, haunting American history. (Kirkus Reviews)
Steigerwald sees Sprigle as an unlikely hero who delivered harsh truths to an audience that . . . might never have seen those stories given the era’s segregated press… [I]t’s a story worth discussing today. (Smithsonian Magazine)
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.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The author introduces us to the time period by giving us a brief history of key figures of the time as well as the racial inequities that defined that period. He then traced Sprigle's travels and experiences, along with the societal impacts.
This is a haunting book that reads as easily as a novel. It should be required reading in our schools and by anyone interested in, or participating in, political activism. By reading this, you will learn more about what true oppression is and in the many ways an entire group of people were persecuted for something as trivial as the color of their skin.
I was stunned and humbled to read the lengths that one man went to to research the problems and then to try to effect change. Decades later, when this white woman was a child in the 60s, there was still tremendous racial strife, I can't even imagine how much worse it was during Sprigle's time.
Again, because it cannot be said strongly enough, this should be required reading in our schools. This is a must read - if I could give it more than 5 stars, I would.
In a very short time, even with the knowledge that he could go home to his white family in Pittsburgh at any time, he embraced his temporary identity as a black man. It didn't take him long start feeling alienation from whites and hatred for the South. "He had just taken his first steps on pure Jim Crow soil. But already he found himself feeling contempt for the white race and starting to think like a black man." The longer he stayed in the South, and the more he saw of Jim Crow in action, the more he became "used to thinking of himself as black--and resenting the white race."
As an outsider, "the many absurdities--idiocies might be a better word" of Jim Crow were glaring to him. White people wouldn't eat or drink after a black person, even after the dishes were washed. Yet who prepared all the food? Black people. They couldn't sit next to a black person on the bus. Yet black dentists and doctors treated white patients. White parents would not allow their children to play with black children. Yet many white children were raised by black domestics.
Sprigle acknowledged that racism was alive and well in all parts of the country. But Jim Crow was entirely difference; it's "the important difference between de jure and de facto segregation. . . . In short, discrimination against the Negro in the North is usually in defiance of the law. In the South it is enforced and maintained by the law."
Sprigle's series of stories sparked a national conversation, including commendations and rebuttals from North and South. He was way ahead of his time, maybe too much so. Steigerwald writes, "There's no evidence Sprigle's series dramatically changed history or radically influenced the people who where shaping it in 1948." But his exposure of the sick and dying system of Jim Crow, "he'll go down in history as the first journalist--white or black--to strike a serious blow against segregation in the mainstream media."
Steigerwald's account is readable and enjoyable, placing Sprigle's project in historical context and giving him well-deserved credit for his work. 30 Days a Black Man is not a comprehensive history of the Jim Crow South in the post-World-War-2 era, but Steigerwald's account of Sprigle's experiences give us a unique perspective on a period of history many would like to forget.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!
Sprigle has the good fortune to be driven and mentored by John Wesley Dobbs, one of the most distinguished, hard-working, and intelligent men of his time. He read, educated himself, and ensured his 6 daughters had the confidence and knowledge to attend and graduate Spelman College in Atlanta, forbidding them to attend segregated events. He did everything he could and then some to improve black lives politically, financially, educationally (yes, I made this word up because it should exist), etc. Of course, helping Sprigle was right up his alley. Dobbs introduces Sprigle to middle-class and poor blacks in the South to interview, as well as explaining how a black man or woman needed to behave to remain safe and alive. Sprigle learns much he didn’t know, and is personally affected and embarrassed by the pain, humiliation and fear whites have caused and perpetuated for too long onto their black employees and neighbors. Back in Pittsburgh he writes a stunning series of articles which generate good and bad letter responses. Based on this series he writes the book In the Land of Jim Crow.
30 Days a Black Man book is honest, lively, readable, and smart and an enthusiastic description of Ray Sprigle’s exciting life. He was unafraid of powerful people, extroverted and friendly, and uniquely qualified to take on difficult stories he knew needed public exposure. Steigerwald deftly weaves in the politicians, journalists, newspapers, and businesses who played large roles in U.S culture and history in the 40’s and 50’s so we can clearly understand the how and why of racism and the evils of the south’s Jim Crow, segregation, and the north’s ignorance and hypocrisy.