When did "Black" start replacing "negro"?

Seán Fitzpatrick grendel.jjf at VERIZON.NET
Thu May 25 05:02:04 UTC 2006

One date marker might be the Jules Feiffer cartoon of someone reflecting how
the preferred  appellative was now "blacks" and had been
"African-Americans", previously "Afro-Americans", before that "Negroes", and
before that "colored", and before that "Nigras" [don't remember if he had
"Niggers" in there], and before that (18th Century) it had been . . .

I'd say the late '50s was when NEGRO replaced COLORED.  I suspect that the
timing of XX replacing YYY depended on one's region and social milieu.

Seán Fitzpatrick
First they came for the verbs, and I said nothing because verbing
weirds language. Then they arrival for the nouns, and I speech
nothing because I no verbs.
-----Original Message-----
From: Sam Clements [mailto:SClements at NEO.RR.COM]
Sent: Wednesday, 24 May, 2006 22:30
Subject: When did "Black" start replacing "negro"?

We're in a debate over at the Straight Dope.

A poster pulled up what appears to be a cite from the Random House
Unabridged Dictionary:

" In the late 1950s BLACK began to replace NEGRO and today is the most
widely used term."

What percentage of polite people would have used "black" instead of "negro"
in 1959?  I didn't think "black" was used in any significant way until the
mid-late 1960's.  But I'm willing to listen to any evidence.

I guess what I'm looking for is just "how significantly" did the word
"black" enter into the language before say, 1965?

Sam Clements

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

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