Phyllis W. Allen, Fort Worth, TX. I am a sixty year old woman who has lived through segregation, integration, Colored, Negro,, Black, African American, segregation, marches, integration, Pan Africanism, opulent consumption, financial catastrophe and now I’m just me.
Alonzo Felder, Durham, NC. Called by many names over the years.
Steve Morris, Seattle, WA. In the mid-1950s my father made a business trip from our home in Connecticut to Florida and back. He decided to make the trip by car, and to take my mother, my brother, and me along with him for a family travel experience. In the Deep South I witnessed undisguised segregation […]
Theil Baumann Ramsbey Smithfield, RI Everyone was so friendly when my family moved when I was in second grade. It was because, a classmate told me years later, they had never had a Negro in their class before. I am Caucasian but have olive skin that can tan deeply (although I never do this now!).
Jada Golden Sherman, Boston, MA. I’m so frustrated with people’s limited understanding and acceptance of genetics, and upbringing. The labels ‘white’ and ‘black’ are over-generalized. Especially when now that we have dark parents having white-looking babies, and white-looking parents having brown babies. Not all white people are…white, nor “white-minded”.My mother’s family is African-American, and many […]
Amy Connelly Provo, UT In teaching about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to my high school students, I had to pause and do some research when I ran across the word “negro” repeatedly used by Dr. King in both his famous “I Have a Dream” speech and “Letter from Birmingham Jail”. I did not know […]
Carolyn Kay Conover, Harrodsburg, KY. It was 1964 and Mary and I had been friends since starting 1st grade together. We’d buy milkshakes at lunch. I’d buy chocolate and she’d buy vanilla. I really liked Mary. This year, Mary and I were going to go to 4-H camp together. We were so excited. We signed […]
H. Ulfheim, Erie, PA. The first mistake was bringing the negro to America. The next mistake was making him a slave and giving him a sense of belonging. The third mistake was letting him learn. The fourth mistake was freeing him, and the fifth mistake was giving him fair treatment, which he abused. Now he […]
Karen Brinkman, New York City, NY. Cleaning out my mother’s attic, I came across a vase wrapped in a newspaper page from 1957. This sentence was in a short article about the firing of “Cemetery” Perteet, President Eisenhower’s long time golf caddy. Learn more about Karen’s 6 words in The Milwaukee Journal
Karen Munroe, Alachua, FL. 1962 Ohio.
Ted Hochstadt Falls Church, VA This is approximately what my mother said to me when I asked her why our African-American cleaning woman could not read the word I asked her about from my second grade reader. The conversation with my mother occurred in Brooklyn, NY almost 65 years ago, but I still remember that […]
Don Pittsburgh, PA Stated in spring of 1963 by negro at the time with no agitation or explanation. As a white person I thought comment strange not knowing the future implications to follow. Strange that statement has stayed in my conscience all these years. Always felt comfortable among black people.
Omari N.F. Santa Barbara, CA Race is something we made up and nothing good has come of it (valiant struggles to overcome its many ills notwithstanding). 20 years ago I’d have been called Negro, 40 years ago ‘Colored’ and today Black. Truth is I am none of the above. There’s only one race, human. My […]
Joe Gandalf, Pickens, SC. At age 5 I was told that “negroes” (the polite term in the 50s) were no different from any one else. Little kids believe anything their parents tell them. An entire lifetime has never shown me differently.
Harvetta Asamoah Gathersburg, MD At 4 years old, while watching attacks on TV with dogs (at that age dogs terrified me under any circumstances), trembling, and listening to my parents loudly discussing it, this word, “Negro” puzzled me. So I raised my small voice, patted his knee and finally got Daddy’s attention, “What, baby?” “Daddy….what’s […]
Carolyn Ash Denver, CO In the opening chapter of his book The Souls of Black Folk, W. E. B. Du Bois describes double consciousness as follows: “One ever feels his two-ness,—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from […]