[Ads-l] terminology - Black American vs. African American

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Wed Jan 7 01:31:26 UTC 2015

At 1/6/2015 05:33 AM, Margaret Lee wrote:

>Thanks, Joel, for the list of historical 
>references.  I was aware that 'African 
>American' was in use (but not extensively) in 
>the 1800's. I was simply referring to when the 
>term was seriously considered (by Blacks) as a 
>replacement  for 'Black' and became what you refer to as a 'movement.'Â
>--Margaret Lee

I realized that.  It was why, because my searches 
only separated pre-1800 from post- (my specific 
interest was what terms were used during the 18th 
century), that I added the references.  Perhaps 
they say something about any promotion of 
"African American" between 1800 and the 1988 movement.


>       From: Joel S. Berson <Berson at ATT.NET>
>  Sent: Monday, January 5, 2015 1:29 PM
>  Subject: Re: terminology - Black American vs. African American
>At 1/5/2015 07:04 AM, Margaret Lee wrote:
> >The term 'African American' was originally
> >introduced and suggested to replace 'Black' in
> >1988 by Dr. Ramona Edelin, then president of the
> >National Urban Coalition.  Jesse Jackson then
> >popularized the term and incorrectly received
> >credit for originally introducing it.
> >--Margaret LeeÂ
>There's discussion in the ADS-L archives about
>the pre-historical use (that is, before
>Edelin/Jackson) of these and other terms.  I
>reported research I did in Early American
>Newspapers and Google Books in a message of 2 Mar
>2011 titled "Nigger vs. Colored, et al."Â  It
>gives numbers of hits, sometimes separated into
>periods (e.g., before or after 1800), for various
>terms (not including "black", which is not amenable to database searching).
>Margaret, in Gbooks I found 42 instances
>of  "African American" before 1800 (none in EAN),
>most of which are probably false positives -- but
>one genuine quotation, probably the earliest, is
>from 1822 Sep 6, the Enquirer.  Of course this
>merely means the term was available long before
>Edelin, not that there was any movement then to
>adopt "African American" to replace "black".  For
>analysis of the historical evolution, see:
>Rael, Patrick. “Introduction.” In
>African-American Activism before the Civil War:
>The Freedom Struggle in the Antebellum North, ed.
>Patrick Rael (New York: Routeledge, 2008).  p. 18.
>Rael, Patrick. Black Identity & Black Protest in
>the Antebellum North. Chapel Hill: University of
>North Carolina Press, 2002.  pp.  84--85.
>Black American Reference Book. Ed. Mabel M.
>Smythe. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1976.  pp. xi---xii.
>Drake, St. Clair. “Negro Americans and the Africa
>Interest.” In The American Negro Reference Book,
>ed. John P. Davis (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.:
>Prentice-Hall, 1966).  p. 700.  [And note the
>change in title between 1966 and 1976!]
> >Â  From: Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
> >Â  Sent: Sunday, January 4, 2015 2:38 PM
> >Â  Subject: Re: terminology - Black American vs. African American
> >
> >On Sun, Jan 4, 2015 at 12:24 PM, Tom Zurinskas <truespel at hotmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > > Whites think African American is a better term.
> >
> >
> >Do they really? Or have they been gorilla-ed into it by some loud-mouthed
> >"spokesman," such as, in the this case, the Revd. Jesse? Back in the day,
> >Jackson advocated so strongly for "A-A" that I thought that it was his
> >original idea. (As did others. A white woman from Jo-berg, in a letter to
> >the editor of The Boston Globe, rhetorically and sarcastically asked, given
> >that she was a native African now an American citizen, what Jackson would
> >call her. Well, as any fool can plainly see, he would, if the occasion
> >arose, call her "white." What could possibly matter beyond that? *Nothing*
> >else. How can that not be so totally obvious as to render such a question
> >utterly otiose?!)
> >
> >The fact of the matter is that someone else suggested it. The Rev merely
> >"took the ball and ran with it," to coin a phrase. In other words, "he made
> >it his own," to coin another phrase.
> >
> >--
> >-Wilson
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list