Education: Black English

To grow up decent, our children need new clothing to present themself in school in proper neat!! The sun have to shine for our children too. Amen.

—Sign carried by a demonstrator in New York in 1969

To most citizens that complaint seems illiterate. To a linguist it is a good example of Black English, a dialect with its own grammar and vocabulary. For three centuries, it has been the language of most American Negroes, but until recently, both its origins and its rules have remained a mystery. Scholars once thought that it was either...

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