Black Like Me




I was saddened to hear of James Whitmore’s death this week.  The article I read reminded us that he was in the movie, Shawshank Redemption, but he was a much brighter star than the role he played in that film.

I remember him (vaguely) on television in the program, The Law and Mr. Jones and I recall him being in the movie, Them!, with James Arness.  But the film that I saw him starring in as a lead man and remember most vividly was the role of a news reporter that went undercover in the movie, Black Like Me.tt0057889


The film was highly controversial for 1964.  This was a period of high racial tension in America at a time shortly after JFK’s assassination.  The premise was a white reporter having his skin color changed to dark in order to do a study of racial relations first hand.  I must admit that James Whitmore as an actor drew this 10 year old to the subject more than the subject itself.  I was living in Iowa at that time and the social and racial injustices weren’t as prevalent in my home town as other parts of the country, or at least… perhaps not as openly.


Little did I know what would happen in American history in the years surrounding that movie, but as I sat alone and watched it in the theatre I believe it was the first time I was exposed to racial prejudice and it shocked me.  I remember later reading in Reader’s Digest a story of a black man who met a little white girl who was curious about his appearance.  Working up the courage to approach him, she reached out and touched his face and then exclaimed, “That’s just skin!”

Sometimes, out of the mouths of babes…

Black Like Me is a true story and it was James Whitmore’s  favorite role.



Tags: , ,

2 Responses to “Black Like Me”

  1. Chantal Says:

    I’ll have to watch The Shawshank Redemption again…..thanks for the book & movie recommendation. Black Like Me makes me think of Jane Elliott and her Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes experiment in the 60s:


  2. marge Says:

    Love ya!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: