"FEAR WAS THE LESSON THAT I LEARNED FIRST AND THE LESSON THAT I LEARNED BEST"
SPRIGLE, Ray. In the Land of Jim Crow. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1949. Octavo, original red paper boards, original dust jacket. $650.
First edition of the award-winning Pittsburgh journalist's searing and groundbreaking report on the "bloodstained tragedy" of racism in the Jim Crow South, published over a decade before Griffin's Black Like Me, in original dust jacket.
In 1948 white journalist Ray Sprigle met with NAACP Executive Secretary Walter White for help in his plan to travel as a black man in the South. Walter White then turned to black civil rights leader John Wesley Dobbs to be Springle's guide as he crossed "the race line in mid-20th-century America" (Juan Williams in Steigerwald, 30 Days as a Black Man, ix-x). It was a time when "the best white print journalists in the North and South, including Sprigle, had neglected, ignored, or not noticed the unconstitutional and shameful elephant in the national newsroom." Over a decade before publication of Griffin's Black Like Me (1961), Sprigle, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1937 for uncovering Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black's KKK past, used suntannng sessions to turn his skin dark. Once in the South, Dobbs introduced him to "black doctors and undertakers, to sharecroppers, and to the families of lynching victims… what Sprigle was seeing made him ashamed to be an American" (Steigerwald,1-12). He writes bluntly of the "bloodstained tragedy" of Jim Crow, where "fear walks beside the black man in the Southland from his earliest boyhood to the bed in which he dies. And fear was the lesson that I learned first and the lesson that I learned best in my four-week lifetime as Negro in the South." Foreword by Margaret Halsey. Serialized in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette the same year under the title, "I was a Negro in the South for 30 Days." First edition, first printing: with no statement of edition or printing on the copyright page. Not in Blockson. Gift inscription.
Book very fresh; light edge-wear with chipping to spine head and upper front panel of elusive dust jacket. A near-fine copy.