From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Negro is a racial term applied to black people. However, prior to the shift in the "lexicon" of American and worldwide classification of race and ethnicity in the late 1960s, the appellation was accepted as a normal formal term both by those of African descent as well as non-blacks. Negro means black in Spanish and Portuguese, and the Italian nero is similar (Latin: niger = "black").
Near-synonyms in common use include
- "coloured" (though in South Africa this means "of mixed race")
- "African" (or, in the United States, "African-American").
However, these terms are not clearly racial — the first three can refer to other non-white groups, while the last one, being a geographic reference, could be interpreted to refer to North Africans as well.