Despite increasing use of the term African-American, most black Americans still prefer to be called black, according to a newly released survey.
The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a black-oriented study group, said it conducted the survey among a sample of 759 black people.It found 72 percent said they preferred black, 15 percent African-American, 3 percent Afro-American and 2 percent Negro, with the rest giving no opinion or other responses.
The change from black to African-American was first proposed in December 1988 at a meeting in Chicago to lay the groundwork for the African American Summit that was held in New Orleans in April 1989. Ramona H. Edelin, president of the National Urban Coalition, suggested it would give black people more of a sense of their history.
Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson endorsed the idea at the summit, and it has since been adopted by such other prominent blacks as New York Mayor David Dinkins, Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson, Rep. William Gray, D-Pa., and by some black organizations.
The joint center has not embraced the change.
"Individuals here use the term, but as an institution we have not adopted it," said Milton Morris, vice president for research. "Frankly, we think that among other practical considerations it is a bit more cumbersome than is convenient for much of our communication."
Morris said Jackson's endorsement appeared to have been the chief impetus for the movement to change to African-American.
"There is a strong inclination among what you might call the elite in the black community to fall in line with such pronouncements, so they have, and the white community has been very responsive," Morris said.