Alabama college hosts n-word conference





TUSCALOOSA, Alabama (AP) -- With a debate swirling nationwide over the n-word, a historically black college in Alabama has set aside four days to discuss the racial slur.

Participants at the conference, which began Thursday and ends Sunday, discussed topics ranging from the origins of the epithet to whether juggling a few letters makes it socially acceptable at the "N" Surrection Conference at Stillman College.

Organizers said the goal of the event is to challenge the use of the n-word "through the use of intelligent dialogue and a thorough examination of black history."

Debate over the use of the word has escalated in recent months, with comedian Michael Richards' racial rant prompting black leaders such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson and California Congresswoman Maxine Waters to urge the public and the entertainment industry to stop using it.

Clarence Sutton Sr., president of the Tuscaloosa chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, said he's taken deep offense to the slur since a 1960 incident when a knife-wielding white youth slapped him and said "Nigger, you wanna fight?"

"From that time on in my life, the word nigger was personal. I associated it with the hate and the very deep disdain that this gentleman had perpetrated on me at the time," he said.

These days, Sutton said, it's mostly other blacks he finds using the word.

"I'm fighting now because we have lost a generation of young people who don't know the history associated with that word," Sutton said.

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