The Maryland State Highway Administration removed four road signs referring to a mountain as “Negro Mountain.” What I don’t understand is how they’ve been up this whole time. Seriously, why weren’t these signs removed a long time ago?
Sometimes I forget Maryland is considered part of the South
I first saw one of the signs around twenty years ago. Even then I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Up until that day driving through the Maryland outback, the last time I saw the word “Negro” on a sign was in a book about life in the country prior to the 1960’s civil rights movement. I’m not from Maryland. I moved here after leaving the Air Force in 1994. I asked people if they knew the origins of the mountain’s name. Nobody I spoke to knew the answer. It would appear The Baltimore Sun ran into the same problem. The newspaper’s staff wrote:
The exact origin of the mountain’s name is unknown.
Isn’t the word “Negro” the Spanish word for black?
Although the word “negro” means the color black in Spanish, in English it singularly meant people originating from African ancestors. Furthermore, it was used when people from African ancestors were thought of as second class citizens. The word has a lot of negative baggage attached to it. Our history is rife with it. Because of that historical fact, it’s not used in present-day communication. At least not by civilized people. Today, people of African lineage are referred to as black or African-American. Personally, I prefer the term American because that’s who they are. They are American.
Historically, people whose ancestors originated in Africa have been in America longer than most other Americans. Their lineage goes back to at least the 1700s. How many other Americans can say that?
Now that I think of it, maybe they should rename Negro Mountain to American Mountain.