What’s the ‘blackest’ surname in the U.S?

February 21, 2011  |  

When we hear the word “Washington” we may think of our nation’s capital, the monument  or our first president Georgie Porgie, but now we may have to see the name and word in a different light. The 2000 census found that of the people with the Washington surname, a whooping 90 percent were black. Which beat out any other surname, including the Williams’ and the Johnsons’. There’s a reason for this:

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.

You can read the full article written by black journalist Jesse Washington over at the Grio.

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