September 5, 2015

US stopping use of term ‘Negro’ for census surveys

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) After more than a century, the Census Bureau is dropping its use of the word “Negro” to describe black Americans in surveys.

Instead of the term that came into use during the Jim Crow era of racial segregation, census forms will use the more modern labels “black” or “African-American”.

The change will take effect next year when the Census Bureau distributes its annual American Community Survey to more than 3.5 million U.S. households, Nicholas Jones, chief of the bureau’s racial statistics branch, said in an interview.

He pointed to months of public feedback and census research that concluded few black Americans still identify with being Negro and many view the term as “offensive and outdated.”

“This is a reflection of changing times, changing vocabularies and changing understandings of what race means in this country,” said Matthew Snipp, a sociology professor at Stanford University, who writes frequently on race and ethnicity. “For younger African-Americans, the term `Negro’ harkens back to the era when African-Americans were second-class citizens in this country.”

First used in the census in 1900, “Negro” became the most common way of referring to black Americans through most of the early 20th century, during a time of racial inequality and segregation. “Negro” itself had taken the place of “colored.” Starting with the 1960s civil rights movement, black activists began to reject the “Negro” label and came to identify themselves as black or African-American.

Still, the term has lingered, having been used by Martin Luther King Jr. in his speeches. It also remains in the names of some black empowerment groups that were established before the 1960s, such as the United Negro College Fund, now often referred to as UNCF.

For the 2010 census, the government briefly considered dropping the word “Negro” but ultimately decided against it, determining that a small segment, mostly older blacks living in the South, still identified with the term. But once census forms were mailed and some black groups protested, Robert Groves, the Census Bureau’s director at the time, apologized and predicted the term would be dropped in future censuses.

When asked to mark their race, Americans are currently given a choice of five government-defined categories in census surveys, including one checkbox selection which is described as “black, African Am., or Negro.” Beginning with the surveys next year, that selection will simply say “black” or “African American.”

In the 2000 census, about 50,000 people specifically wrote in the word Negro when asked how they wished to be identified. By 2010, unpublished census data provided to the AP show that number had declined to roughly 36,000.

Comments

comments

News

City of Salisbury hires new communications director

High School

Wanted: more football officials like Larry Cesario

News

Performers, crowds of onlookers fill downtown for Buskers Bash

East Spencer

East Spencer renames Nash Street for longtime resident Essie Mae Foxx

Local

Bonnie’s last ride

News

Political notebook: Paris draws criticism from old friends in run for city council

Faith

Bazaars 2015 season

Crime

Police: Investigators continue to search for suspect in Pierre Dillard murder

Faith

St. John’s to dedicate new building

Local

Downed tree knocks out power to over 260 Salisbury residents

East Spencer

East Spencer to rename Nash Street in honor of Essie Mae Foxx

Education

KCS adjusts bell times to help with bus transportation

Business

Salisbury announces significant upgrade in municipal Internet system

Local

Police ID Rachel Lane shooting victim, continue investigation

Business

Dick’s Sporting Goods in Salisbury now hiring, schedules grand opening

Business

Busker’s Bash scheduled as part of today’s First Friday events

Education

Complete state grades for Rowan-Salisbury schools

Education

Livingstone playing in Palmetto Capital City Classic to raise money for HBCUs

Local

Posters Sept. 4

Health

Health Department reaches out with Salud Hispana Sept. 25

Local

Police: Search for missing Salisbury man in Lenoir, nothing found

News

In case of death, nine city council candidates choose location for leftover money

Local

Labor Day operating schedule for Rowan towns, cities

Local

Police: SBI assisting in cold case of missing Salisbury man Michael Rustin