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September 20, 2020
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Historical writings

Spell It With a Capital by Ida B. Wells Barnett

We have noticed an error, which all journalists seem to make. Whether from mistake or ill-intention, we are unable to say, but the profession universally begins Negro with a small letter. It is certainly improper, and as no one has ever given a good reason for this breach of orthography, we will offer one. [Whyte] men began printing long before Colored men dared read their works; had power to establish any rule they saw fit. As a mark of disrespect, as a stigma, as a badge of inferiority, they tacitly agreed to spell his name without a capital. The French, German, Irish, Dutch, Japanese, and other nationalities are honored with a capital letter, but the poor sons of Ham must bear the burden of a small n.

To our Colored journalistic brothers, we present this as a matter of self-interest. Spell it with a capital. To the Democratic journals, we present this as a matter of good grammar. To the Republicans, we present it as a matter of right. Spell it with a capital. To all persons who would take from our wearied shoulders a hair’s weight of the burden of prejudice and ill will we bear, we present this as a matter of human clarity and beg you SPELL IT WITH A CAPITAL.

Source:
Daughters of Africa by Margaret Busby

 
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