The word “Negro” is used in the English-speaking world to refer to a person of black ancestry or appearance. The word negro denotes 'black' in the Spanish and Portuguese, derived from the ancient Latin word, niger, 'black', which itself ultimately is probably from a Proto-Indo-European root *nekw-, 'to be dark', akin to *nokw- 'night'.
"Negro" superseded "colored" as the most polite terminology, at a time when "black" was more offensive. This usage was accepted as normal, even by people classified as Negroes, until the later Civil Rights movement in the late 1960s. One well-known example is the identification by Martin Luther King, Jr. of his own race as 'Negro' in his famous 1963 speech I Have a Dream.
During the American Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, some black American leaders in the United States, notably Malcolm X, objected to the word, preferring Black, because they associated the word Negro with the long history of slavery, segregation, and discrimination that treated African Americans as second class citizens, or worse.
Since the late 1960s, various other terms have been more widespread in popular usage. These include "black", "Black African", "Afro-American" (in use from the late 1960s to 1990) and "African American" (used in the United States to refer to black Americans, peoples often referred to in the past as American Negroes).
The term "Negro" is still used in some historical contexts, such as in the name of the United Negro College Fund and the Negro league in sports.
The United States Census Bureau announced that "Negro" would be included on the 2010 United States Census, alongside "Black" and "African-American" because some older black Americans still self-identify with the term.
Famous quotes containing the word negro:
“The Negro revolution is controlled by foxy white liberals, by the Government itself. But the Black Revolution is controlled only by God.”
—Malcolm X (19251965)
“And then, the negro being doomed, and damned, and forgotten, to everlasting bondage, is the white man quite certain that the tyrant demon will not turn upon him too?”
—Abraham Lincoln (18091865)
“Droning a drowsy syncopated tune,
Rocking back and forth to a mellow croon,
I heard a Negro play.
Down on Lenox Avenue the other night
By the pale dull pallor of an old gas light”
—Langston Hughes (19021967)