When did "Black" start replacing "negro"?

Barnhart barnhart at HIGHLANDS.COM
Thu May 25 13:52:04 UTC 2006

>From The Second Barnhart  Dictionary of New English (c. 1980):

black, adj., n. > As a label of racial identity, black was revived in the
late 1960's by the American civil-rights movement and so successfully
popularized in the following years that it virtually removed from
circulation the formerly standard label Negro.  However, as late as 1967 a
new encyclopedic reference book dealing with black history and culture was
entitled The Negro Almanac and used the label Negro throughout.

Historically, black and negro were used interchangeably, e.g. "He noticed
the approach of the black ... with a smile of contempt" (James Fennimore
Cooper, The Spy, 1821).  It was chiefly during the twentieth century that
negro was capitalized (Negro), and black went out of fashion among whites,
as it was considered an insult to refer to the color of a black person's
skin.  Thus Negro became the accepted label and standard spelling, though
a number of old and new euphemisms, e.g. "colored" (DAE 1780),
"Afro-American" (DA 1853), and "non-white" (OEDS 1921), were used until
the 1960's.

The revival of black probably succeeded in part because black leaders
promoted the label, using it in slogans emphasizing pride in being black
(Black Power, Black is Beautiful), and in designating concepts intended to
raise the consciousness of blacks (black nationalism, black culture).

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

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