Census Bureau Drops “Negro”

U.S. Census Bureau Drops 'Negro' From Surveys

The U.S. Census Bureau is bidding farewell to "Negro" on its surveys and forms after more than 100 years of use.

The description has come to be viewed as outdated and even offensive by many people in the Black community, officials say, so the bureau will reduce the options to "Black" or "African-American."

The agency will include the new language next year in its annual American Community Survey, which reaches upwards of 3.5 million households in the United States.

The term's use dates back five centuries to when Portuguese and Spanish explorers used their languages' word for black to describe the people of sub-Saharan African.

It followed slavery to the United States, surviving Reconstruction and the Jim Crow-era before losing favor during the civil rights and Black power movements of the 1960s.

The first U.S. census, which was taken in 1790, displayed only three different racial categories: "free White," "all other free persons" and "slaves." The term "Negro" appeared for the first time in 1900, to identify people of African descent.

The government considered ending usage of the word "Negro" for the 2010 Census but ultimately decided against it. The bureau reasoned that there was still a segment of the U.S. population that personally identified with the term. Most of them were older Blacks living in the Southern states.


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