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T. Thomas Fortune, the Afro-American AgitatorA Collection of Writings, 1880-1928$
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Shawn Leigh Alexander

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780813032320

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813032320.001.0001

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Who Are We? Afro-Americans, Colored People or Negroes?

Who Are We? Afro-Americans, Colored People or Negroes?

(p.248) 29 Who Are We? Afro-Americans, Colored People or Negroes?
T. Thomas Fortune, the Afro-American Agitator

Shawn Leigh Alexander

University Press of Florida

This chapter presents the article, “Who Are We? Afro-Americans, Colored People or Negroes?” where Fortune challenged the notion that African Americans could or should be known as anything other than Afro-American. Written in response to Professor J. W. E. Bowen's assertion that “Negro” was the proper nomenclature for African Americans, Fortune argued that the race were “African in origin and American in birth” and therefore Afro-American. Moreover, he maintained that the word “Negro” was a “common noun” and if used, the race would be the object of “ridicule and contempt.” With regard to the term “colored,” Fortune dismissed it outright since it was not specific; it could be used to apply to “red, yellow and white people” as well as “black ones.” Until “we get this race designation properly fixed in language and literature,” Fortune contended, “we shall be kicked and cuffed and sneered at a common noun, sufficiently and contemptuously characterized by the vulgar term Negro.”

Keywords:   African Americans, Afro-American, J. W. E. Bowen, Negro, race designation

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