Texas-born author and journalist of racial justice-themed works. He is best remembered for Black Like Me, a 1960 memoir of his year of posing as an African American man in the American South.
After studying French at the University of Poitiers and medicine at the French Ecole de Medecine, he served in the Pacific theater of World War II as a member of the United States Army Air Corps.
His early literary works, published in the 1950s, include The Devil Rides Outside, Land of the High Sky, and Nuni.
He was raised in Dallas, Texas by John Griffin and pianist Lena Griffin. His marriage to Elizabeth Ann Holland produced four children and lasted from 1953 until his death in 1980.
Actor James Whitmore starred in the 1964 film version of Griffin's memoir, Black Like Me.