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"Washington" -- The 'blackest name' in America

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Blue_Tires Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-21-11 02:26 PM
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"Washington" -- The 'blackest name' in America
George Washington's name is inseparable from America, and not only from the nation's history. It identifies countless streets, buildings, mountains, bridges, monuments, cities and people.

In a puzzling twist, most of these people are black. The 2000 U.S. Census counted 163,036 people with the surname Washington. Ninety percent of them were African-American, a far higher black percentage than for any other common name.

The story of how Washington became the "blackest name" begins with slavery and takes a sharp turn after the Civil War, when all blacks were allowed the dignity of a surname.

Even before Emancipation, many enslaved black people chose their own surnames to establish their identities. Afterward, some historians theorize, large numbers of blacks chose the name Washington in the process of asserting their freedom.

Today there are black Washingtons, like this writer, who are often identified as African-American by people they have never met. There are white Washingtons who are sometimes misidentified and have felt discrimination. There are Washingtons of both races who view the name as a special if complicated gift.

And there remains the presence of George, born 279 years ago on Feb. 22, whose complex relationship with slavery echoes in the blackness of his name today.

___

George Washington's great-grandfather, John, arrived in Virginia from England in 1656. John married the daughter of a wealthy man and eventually owned more than 5,000 acres, according to the new biography "Washington: A Life," by Ron Chernow.

Along with land, George inherited 10 human beings from his father. He gained more through his marriage to a wealthy widow, and purchased still more enslaved blacks to work the lands he aggressively amassed. But over the decades, as he recognized slavery's contradiction with the freedoms of the new nation, Washington grew opposed to human bondage.


http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110221/ap_on_re_us/us_the_...

I liked the part about Larry Washington -- Another candidate for the Reggie Cleveland All-Stars: http://www.yesbutnobutyes.com/archives/2007/04/the_regg...
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