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Methodist Episcopal Church: American Protestant denomination whose initial progress in ministering to black Americans was thwarted by segregationist policies. The term Methodist originated as a nickname applied to a group of 18th- century Oxford University students known for their methodical application to Scripture study and prayer. The nation's principal Methodist body is the United Methodist Church, which was formed in 1968 by the merger of the Methodist Church and Evangelical United Brethren Church. It has 10 million members. The three major black denominations are African Methodist Episcopal Church, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. (See African Methodist Episcopal Church and African Methodist Episcopal Zion.)

Middle Passage, The: The transatlantic voyages between Africa and the Americas that claimed the lives of approximately 1.8 million African slaves over a period of about 350 years. An estimated 12 million slaves were packed into slave quarters in the belly of ships. (See slavery.)

militant: Commonly used to describe an aggressive activist working for a cause; a person eager to engage in a struggle to achieve his or her goal; can be used to mean any individual engaged in warfare, a fight, combat, or generally serving as a solider. A militant view sometimes constitutes an extremists position. A militant state denotes being in a physically aggressive posture supporting an ideology or cause. Should not be used in place of terrorist. Militant is deemed to be a neutral term, whereas terrorist indicates reprehensible behavior by an individual or organization regardless of the motivations. Avoid using to describe a black person who is simply hostile, belligerent or controversial.

Million Man March: Washington rally held on Oct. 16, 1995, and organized by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and the Rev. Benjamin Chavis to draw attention to the social conditions to black men and to urge them to assume control over their lives. Some reports say approximately 900,000 black men congregated on the Washington Mall; march organizers say over a million men were there.

Million Woman March: Philadelphia march and rally held on Oct. 25, 1997, and organized by community activists Asia Coney and Phile Chionesu and seeking to build coalitions within the black community. An estimated 1.5 million black women gathered on Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin Parkway for the event.

minister: Clergy member; pastor; person authorized to conduct religious worship or administer sacraments. Not a formal title. Do not use before a clergy members name. Nation of Islam followers and others often refer to Louis Farrakhan as Minister Farrakhan. (See Nation of Islam.) Avoid this title in news copy; better to say Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan on first reference and then Farrakhan on subsequent references.

minority, minorities: Group or groups differing especially in race, religion or ethnicity from the majority of a population. Collective when used as a noun. Does not refer to an individual, so avoid such phrases as: There are three minorities on the council. Also: Women do not constitute a minority, although they may be linked with minorities in various civil-rights contexts. Avoid saying, for example, the program is designed to encourage the representation of minorities if it also encourages the representation of women. Better to say the program is designed to encourage the representation of women and minorities. A better alternative is people of color when referring to a group. (See people of color.)

mixed: Sometimes used to describe a person who is biracial. Avoid the term in this context. (See biracial.)

Montgomery bus boycott: Yearlong protest in the Alabama city that galvanized the civil-rights movement and led to the 1956 Supreme Court decision declaring segregated seating on buses unconstitutional. (See civil-rights movement.)

Motown: Formerly black-owned record company that became the most commercially successful and culturally influential of the 1960s, producing a distinct musical style and many singing icons. Motown Records is now part of the Universal Music Group. Can also be used as an adjective to describe the musical style or city in which it originated, Detroit.

mudcloth: Handmade African textile made of cotton originated centuries ago by women of Mali, West Africa. Mudcloth is an authentic traditional art form. The cloth is dyed in a tea of leaves and barks, then painted with mud and used for decorative purposes and garments.


  • blues, the - Music originating in late 19th century that connoted both an emotional state and musical format. Emerged during troubled times of the post-Reconstruction South when Southern blacks experienced disfranchisement, oppression and violence. During the 20th century, the blues became the worlds most familiar musical form through its role in rhythm and blues (R&B) and early rock n roll.
  • calypso - African-Caribbean music combining syncopated phrasing and orchestration, which often includes guitars, maracas, brass and wind instruments, drums and steel drums (originally modified oil drums). The lyrics are frequently improvised and usually address current events or social concerns; folk music primarily from Trinidad.
  • gospel - Arising out of 20th century black culture, a music style that builds upon the long-standing traditions of black religious expression, incorporating joyous songs of celebration and worship.
  • hip-hop - Urban music that emerged in the late 1970s. An African-American musical innovation that blends classic R&B, pop and rap music. Hip-hop is a catchall term for rap and the culture it spawned. (See rap.)
  • jazz - Music of the 20th century characterized by improvisation, a distinctive rhythmic approach called swing and an expectation that each musician achieve a unique, individual sound. Jazz includes such styles as swing, big band, bebop, cool, hard bop, free jazz and contemporary acid jazz.
  • rap - Music of rhyming lyrics spoken rhythmically over musical instruments, often with a backdrop of sampling, scratching and mixing by DJs. Originally, rapping was called MCing and seen as supporting the DJ. Sampling involves reusing a portion of a recording as an element in a new recording. Scratching involves using your hand to move a vinyl record back and forth while it plays on a turntable, creating a distinctive sound.
  • R&B, rhythm and blues - Musical style evolving from the blues and laying groundwork for rock n roll. R&B developed after World War II and reflected the growing confidence of urban blacks. It broke through racial barriers, achieving unprecedented recognition in U.S. popular culture. R&B kept the pace and the drive of up-tempo blues, but its instrumentation was sparer and emphasis was on song, not improvisation.
  • reggae - African-Caribbean music originating in Jamaica that blends blues, calypso and rock n roll, and is characterized by a strong syncopated rhythm and lyrics of social protest.
  • soul - Music influenced by gospel and which emerged in the 1960s from R&B. The music, funkier and looser than the driving rhythms of R&B, gained popularity with songs that addressed social issues and black pride.
  • spirituals - Songs of religious expression of slaves that often had a double purpose. While retelling the stories of the bible, the lyrics also allowed the slaves to secretly communicate plans for escape.

    mulatto: A person who has a white parent and a black parent. Avoid using term; considered to be insensitive. Better to use biracial. (See biracial.)

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