Not to spend too much time on “Negrogate,” but Slate’s Brian Palmer has a good history of the word “Negro” that’s definitely worth reading:
Colored was the preferred term for black Americans until WEB DuBois, following the lead of Booker T. Washington, advocated for a switch to Negro in the 1920s. (DuBois also used black in his writings, but it wasn’t his term of choice.) Despite claims that Negrowas a white-coined word intended to marginalize black people, DuBois arguedthat the term was “etymologically and phonetically” preferable to colored or “various hyphenated circumlocutions.” Most importantly, the new terminology—chosen by black leaders themselves—symbolized a rising tide of black intellectual, artistic, and political assertiveness. (After achieving the shift in vocabulary, DuBois spearheaded a letter-writing campaign to capitalize his preferred term. In 1930—nine years before Harry Reid was born—the New York Times Style Book made the change.) Blacksupplanted Negro when the energy of this movement waned.
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