Using the Term “Nigger”

When Grandfather used the term “nigger” he didn’t consider it a disrespectful term; that’s what everybody called blacks in his day, that’s what they called themselves. There were some official documents using the term “Negro,” which comes from the Latin meaning “black.” As time went by, some Southern politicians used the more deferent name, “Nigras.”

At Christmastime I used to get “nigger toes” in my stocking. I never knew until I was a teenager that the real name of those “nigger toes” was Brazil nuts.

Maltreatment of African-Americans didn’t end with the Civil War. My little town of Sayre, Oklahoma, along with a sprinkling of other towns in the state, adhered to the “Sundown Rule.” It was fine for an African-American to enter the town but he always had to be out of town by sundown. The Sundown Rule started being ignored by the 1920s, but even as late as the 1970s there were only a handful of African-American families in town. When I was a boy in the 1930s, African-Americans could not be served in restaurants; however some restaurants had little side windows where African-Americans could buy take-out food.

My Daddy saw an almost end to sanctioned color prejudice in his lifetime as described below by my Uncle Carlton Cornels in his book “And That’s The Way Sayre Was.”

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