Anyone who has worked in diplomatic or anthropological circles knows that racial terminology is a very sensitive topic. As an example, when Mr. Roeder worked with native-Americans, he came to realize that some tribal members called themselves: Indians, Native-Americans or by their tribe, e.g. Navajo or Diné. He also worked extensively with the Bedouins in Egypt (with whom I maintain contact) and they prefer to be called Bedouin or al-‘Arab, not Egyptian. There is also debate on what to call Spanish speaking resident of the United States, Hispanio, Latino, etc.
Racial terms like African-American, Black, Negro, Colored, Mulatto, etc. are used in the volumes in this series and will offend some people; but they should be seen in the context of the source document or interviewee. After a discussion with Pastor Lawson of Prosperity Baptist Church and the Black History Committee of the Friends of the Balch Library, it was agreed that Mr. Roeder would use the term African-American when speaking in his own voice of people descendant from African immigrants (whether those who were or were not in bondage); however, census and county records often referred to people as colored, Negro or mulatto. Contemporary interviewees might say Black or colored. In those instances, he used the term proposed by the source. A good example would be “colored school,” sometimes “negro school,” which were standard terms for segregated schools that serviced African-Americans. Segregated units in the US Army were also known as Colored.
No term is universally used by the world, so readers are asked to understand that this project’s effort is intended to honor people and never offend, while being historically correct.