For immediate release | March 11, 2011

Mansfield (Texas) Public Library designated a Literary Landmark by ALTAFF

PHILADELPHIA – Mansfield (Texas) Public Library has been designated a Literary Landmark by the Association of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations (ALTAFF), a division of the American Library Association (ALA).

The Literary Landmark recognizes the contributions of author John Howard Griffin (1920-1980). Griffin’s book" Black Like Me" chronicles his experiences in fall 1959, when he darkened his skin and lived as a black man for seven weeks while traveling through Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama. "Black Like Me" has been translated into 14 languages and sold more than 10 million copies. Griffin was also the author of several novels, and a renowned photographer. He and his family lived on a farm in Mansfield during the time his social experiment took place.

More than 300 people attended the Literary Landmark dedication, which took place Feb. 27. Former First Lady Laura W. Bush was a special guest at the ceremony at the library, and called Griffin “one of the strongest white voices for civil rights.” Other special guests at the dedication were Griffins biographer Robert Bonazzi, and 15-year-old Zach McCartney, who won an essay contest sponsored by the Friends of the Mansfield Public Library on “The Power of a Book.”

As part of the Literary Landmark celebration, the film "An Uncommon Vision: The Life and Times of John Howard Griffin" was shown to a capacity crowd in the historic Farr Best Theater in downtown Mansfield, just a few steps away from the corner where Griffin was hung in effigy after the publication of "Black Like Me." Filmmaker Morgan Atkinson was in attendance to introduce his film and told the audience “When I think of John Howard Griffin, I think of courage, commitment and a love of knowledge. That is what the Friends of the Library are all about.”

The Friends of the Mansfield Public Library joined ALTAFF in supporting this Literary Landmark dedication. “We’re really proud of this honor and the fact that the Mansfield community turned out to support the library,” said Friends president Paula Highfill. “I think programs like this prove what a vital part of the community the library serves. We’re bringing history to life.”

The Literary Landmark program is administered by ALTAFF. More than 100 Literary Landmarks across the United States have been dedicated since the program began in 1986. Any library or citizens group may apply for a Literary Landmark through ALTAFF. For more information, visit

ALTAFF will present a panel discussion on “Recognizing Your Community’s Literary Heritage: How to Designate a Literary Landmark” at the ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans at 8 a.m. on Saturday, June 25. For information, visit

ALTAFF is a division of the American Library Association that supports citizens who govern, promote, advocate and fundraise for libraries. ALTAFF brings together library Trustees, advocates, Friends and Foundations into a partnership that creates a powerful force for libraries in the 21st century. For more information, visit, or contact Jillian Kalonick at (312) 280-2161 or



Jillian Kalonick