Black Like Me

by

John Howard Griffin

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Black Like Me can help.

P.D. East Character Analysis

A white journalist who lives in Mississippi and runs a newspaper called The Petal Paper. At first, East tries to “fence-straddle all major issues” about race, ultimately placating his racist readers by refusing to write about inequality. However, he soon finds himself unable to continue ignoring his conscience, so he begins publishing what he really thinks about the injustice black people face in Mississippi. Unfortunately, his readers stop subscribing, and local advertisers take their business elsewhere. Worse, East begins to fear for his and his family’s safety. However, he doesn’t let this stop him from speaking his mind, as he goes on to write a memoir about the entire experience. When Griffin arrives in Hattiesburg and finds himself unable to emotionally withstand the fear of spending the night within the tense atmosphere of the African American part of town, he calls East and asks if he can stay at his house. As such, East picks him up and takes him home, and the two men spend the majority of their time talking about what it’s like to be a nonracist white person advocating for equality.
Get the entire Black Like Me LitChart as a printable PDF.
Black Like Me PDF

P.D. East Character Timeline in Black Like Me

The timeline below shows where the character P.D. East appears in Black Like Me. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
November 14-15, 1959
Appearance, Identity, and Bigotry Theme Icon
Fear and Violence Theme Icon
...moment Griffin gives up and calls the only person he knows nearby, a journalist named P.D. East. Billie, his wife, answers the phone and tells Griffin that P.D. will pick him... (full context)
Appearance, Identity, and Bigotry Theme Icon
Fear and Violence Theme Icon
When P.D. picks up Griffin, the two men ride side by side in the darkness, a strange... (full context)
Unity, Division, and Communication Theme Icon
Fear and Violence Theme Icon
After settling into P.D.’s house and spending time with his family, Griffin unwinds. Before long, P.D. gives him a... (full context)
Unity, Division, and Communication Theme Icon
Fear and Violence Theme Icon
Going into more detail about P.D. East’s downfall in white society, Griffin explains that P.D. was outspokenly against a bill “to... (full context)
November 16, 1959
Appearance, Identity, and Bigotry Theme Icon
Implicit Bias and Systemic Racism Theme Icon
P.D. takes Griffin to Dillard University—a black institution in New Orleans—to meet the dean. He then... (full context)