Excerpts Related to the Theme of Names

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"The use of names was a way of bringing back every thing someone could remember about a person. The strength in a name is something that has always made me wonder at the abstraction of the design, the ability of a name to bring back every single memory you have of that person is far more realistic and specific and much more comprehensive than a still photograph which captures a specific moment in time or single event or a generalized image that may or may not be moving for all who have connections to that time."


--Maya Lin, architect of the Vietnam War Memorial 

"A slave should have no sense of himself that was separate from the self the master wanted him to have. Thus it was that no black had a name of his own. He was given the surname of his owner, no matter how many owners he might have during his life. A Negro has got no name. My father was a Ransom and he had a uncle named Hankin. If you belong to Mr. Jones and he sell you to Mr. Johnson, consequently you go by the name of your owner. Now where you get a name? We are wearing the name of our master. I was first a Hale; then my father was sold and then I was named Reed. Without a name of his own, the slave's ability to see himself apart from his owner was lessened. He was never asked who he was. He was asked, 'Who's nigger are you?' The slave had no separate identity. He was always Mr. So-and-so's nigger."

--"To Be A Slave" by Julius Lester

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