Home > 30 Days a Black Man The Forgotten Story That Exposed the Jim Crow South By Bill Steigerwald

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30 Days a Black Man

The Forgotten Story That Exposed the Jim Crow South

By Bill Steigerwald

Foreword by Juan Williams


In 1948 most white people in the North had no idea how unjust and unequal daily life was for the 10 million African Americans living in the South. But that suddenly changed after Pittsburgh’s greatest newspaperman, Ray Sprigle of the Post-Gazette, went undercover and lived as a black man in the Jim Crow South.

Escorted through the South’s parallel black society by John Wesley Dobbs, a historic black civil rights pioneer from Atlanta, Sprigle met with sharecroppers, local black leaders, and families of lynching victims. He visited ramshackle black schools and slept at the homes of prosperous black farmers and doctors.

The Post-Gazette star reporter’s series was syndicated coast to coast in white newspapers and carried into the South only by the Pittsburgh Courier, the country’s leading black paper. His vivid 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.

Pittsburgh’s Bill Steigerwald, whose 36-year career as a journalist included  stints at the LA Times in the 1980s, the Post-Gazette in the 1990s and the Pittsburgh Trib in the ‘00s, elevates Sprigle’s groundbreaking exposé to its rightful place among the seminal events of the early Civil Rights movement. A valuable historical snapshot of the Jim Crow South, 1948 Pittsburgh and a rigidly segregated country, 30 Days celebrates the brilliant, brave and mostly forgotten white and black men who collaborated to end legal segregation in the days before television.

Bill Steigerwald / BillSteigerwald.com

Ex-newspaperman Steigerwald is the author of 30 Days a Black Man, which retells the story of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette star reporter Ray Sprigle's undercover mission through the Jim Crow South in 1948. He also wrote Dogging Steinbeck  which exposed the truth about Travels With Charley and celebrated Flyover America and its people six years before they elected Donald Trump. Blogs, photos, a 1960 Steinbeck/Charley trip timeline and more are at TruthAboutCharley.com




Early Praise


    “This is a vivid, well-researched account of a journalistic coup … 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


     “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

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