"30 Days A Black Man" by Bill Steigerwald reflects on the dangerous trailblazing work of a White reporter posing as a Black man in the segregated South
PITTSBURGH, Feb. 2, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — As we celebrate Black History Month, we take an important look back at what life was like during the Jim Crow period. Bill Steigerwald’s startling book, 30 Days A Black Man, takes us back to 1948 in the Deep South. While the year is now 2023, we are not far removed from the extreme racism of that time. Let’s look back, lest we forget…
“I quit being white, and free, and an American citizen when I climbed aboard that Jim Crow coach…I was Black, and in bondage – not quite slavery but not quite freedom, either.” – Ray Sprigle, 1948
30 Days A Black Man recounts the story of Ray Sprigle, a star reporter for the Post-Gazette – and he was White. Sprigle made the audacious choice to disguise himself as a Black man for 30 days and traveled alongside John Wesley Dobbs, a Black civil rights pioneer from Atlanta. His purpose: to experience what it was really like to be Black living in the South, and to bring greater awareness to the injustices Black people lived through daily.
Bill Steigerwald provides a vivid account of Sprigle’s journey. Sprigle witnessed the injustices faced by Black leaders, sharecroppers and family members of lynching victims; saw the inequities in education; and encountered a separate set of rules Black people had to follow under Jim Crow, such as: sitting in the back seat of vehicles; never calling a white man by his name, but calling him “mister”; or being prohibited from trying on clothes in a clothing store. He opened the eyes of White people in the North who were unaware of the unfair practices against Black people in the South.
30 Days A Black Man, a retelling of Sprigle’s encounters with racism, reminds us all to be vigilant in our efforts to seek justice for all people. Released in 2017, the book is relevant today as America continues to experience racial tension.
“Ray Sprigle and Bill Steigerwald were both reporters for the Post-Gazette. 30 Days A Black Man is an important resource as we dialogue about race in America and continue to work toward justice,” says John Block, publisher of the Toledo Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Sprigle’s 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.
30 Days A Black Man by Bill Steigerwald is available on Amazon.
About Block Communications:
Block Communications, Inc., (BCI) is a 118-year-old privately held diversified media holding company headquartered in Toledo, OH. It has primary operations in cable television, newspaper publishing, high-speed Internet and residential telephone services. Publications owned by Block Communications, Inc. include The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Toledo Blade.
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SOURCE Block Communications