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"Negro" superseded "colored" as the most polite terminology, at a time when "black" was more offensive.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:
“It doesnt do good to open doors for someone who doesnt have the price to get in. If he has the price, he may not need the laws. There is no law saying the Negro has to live in Harlem or Watts.”
—Ronald Reagan (b. 1911)
“It is only when we speak what is right that we stand a chance at night of being blown to bits in our homes. Can we call this a free country, when I am afraid to go to sleep in my own home in Mississippi?... I might not live two hours after I get back home, but I want to be a part of setting the Negro free in Mississippi.”
—Fannie Lou Hamer (19171977)
“... in every State there are more women who can read and write than the whole number of illiterate male voters; more white women who can read and write than all Negro voters; more American women who can read and write than all foreign voters.”
—National Woman Suffrage Association. As quoted in History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 4, ch. 13, by Susan B. Anthony and Ida Husted Harper (1902)