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.
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
November 16, 1959