Ray Sprigle was a superstar newspaperman for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette whose amazing undercover mission into the Jim Crow South in 1948 has been largely forgotten.
In my Lyons Press book 30 Days a Black Man I retell Sprigle’s great story, which is about the pre-TV civil rights movement, the triumphs and failures of black and white newspapers and the power of one journalist to start a national debate in the media over ending legal segregation.
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.
It was my great pleasure — and duty — to elevate Sprigle’s groundbreaking exposé to its rightful place among the seminal events of the early Civil Rights movement.
And Nick Gillespie, the culturally erudite editor of libertarian Reason.com and big fan of Dogging Steinbeck, wrote this in the intro to Reason’s podcast with me:
Steigerwald’s powerful new book … documents Sprigle’s expose and does a masterful job of recreating an America in which de facto and de jure segregation was the rule not just in the former Confederacy but much of the North as well.