‘It's derogatory’: Black History Society pushing to remove ‘Negro’ from N.B. community names
Published Monday, January 23, 2017 7:46PM AST
Members of New Brunswick’s black community say the time has come to bury a word once used in polite company, but is now considered offensive.
The word “Negro" is still being used as a name for roads, neighbourhoods and historic breakwater in the province.
"It's surprising to be able to go to some of the communities and they're still saying, ‘You live on “N” hill, and it's not Negro that they're saying and it hurts people,” said Ralph Thomas of the New Brunswick Black History Society.
“It's derogatory. It's demeaning,"
Historian David Peters says the word Negro has been outdated for decades.
“Most of my own people didn't know where the word Negro came from. Through research we found out it was a Spanish word," Peters said. “We started educating ourselves and reading more deeply and researching, and we're not Spanish. Why is everyone using that word to refer to we the black people?"
The City of Saint John is being asked to change at least three place names that include the word Negro.
"It's almost like an offensive word,” said Saint John Deputy Mayor Shirley McAlary. “It offends you, so that you feel awful inside when you hear that word, so I'm certainly 100 per cent for changing the names."
If the word Negro is removed from the Saint John locations and elsewhere in New Brunswick, Thomas says they should be renamed to honour people who have made a contribution to the black community, like Fred Hodges.
"The New Brunswick Black History Society suggests we call it Hodges Point because it would be named after an outstanding black person whose family were black Loyalists," Thomas said.
Aside from the Partridge Island Breakwater, the Black Historical Society says Negro Head in Lorneville should also be renamed.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mike Cameron.