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Uncommon Vision: The Life and Times of John Howard Griffin book coverUncommon Vision: The Life and Times of John Howard Griffin

by Morgan Atkinson


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Uncommon Vision: The Life and times of John Howard Griffin is Morgan Atkinson's documentary on the remarkable life of a son of the American South who became a citizen of the world and stirred the conscience of a nation.

Griffin is best known as the white man who disguised himself as a black man in 1959 and traveled through the heart of Dixie. From his experiences he wrote Black Like Me, a groundbreaking best seller that today stands as a testament to moral commitment and a document of an extraordinary event during the Civil Rights era.

Uncommon Vision focuses on Griffin's social activism, but also examines how a spiritual quest led him from a segregated Texas childhood to fighting with the French underground. This faith sustained him during a decade of blindness and inspired him during a prolific creative life as a writer and photographer.

It is an entertaining and edifying story. Studs Terkel, one of the great chroniclers of 20th century American culture and a frequent interviewer of Griffin, summed him up thus: "Griffin was one of the most remarkable people I have ever encountered. He was just one of those guys who comes along once or twice in a century and lifts the hearts of the rest of us."

The on-camera commentators for the documentary are: Mike Wallace, who interviewed Griffin on CBS Television in 1960; Dick Gregory, civil rights activist who lectured with Griffin and authored two best sellers on race relations during the 1960s; Jonathan Yardley, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and former book reviewer for the Washington Post, who wrote a stirring essay about Black Like Me; Donald Shriver, President Emeritus of the Union Theological Seminary; Jerry Harp, Lewis and Clarke scholar, who has written about Griffin's spirituality; and Robert Bonazzi, Executor of the Griffin Estate and author of Man in the Mirror: John Howard Griffin and the Story of Black Like Me.

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