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NABJ Style Guide U-V-W-X-Y-Z
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Underground Railroad: In the United States before the Civil War, a vast network of people organized to free slaves from the South. It started in the colonial period and reached its peak in the early 1830s. An estimated 100,000 slaves were freed using the secretive system of safe houses and transportation. Slaves often used songs to relay messages of escape. Notable figures include John Fairfield in Ohio, the son of a slaveholding family, who made many daring rescues; Quaker Levi Coffin, who assisted more than 3,000 slaves; and Harriet Tubman, who made 19 trips into the South and escorted over 300 slaves to freedom.

United Negro College Fund, The (UNCF): Nations largest, oldest and most comprehensive minority higher education assistance organization. UNCF provides funding and services for 39 member historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), scholarships and internships for students at almost 1,000 institutions and faculty and administrative professional training. May use UNCF on second reference.

Uncle Tom: A term of contempt. Based on the main character, an elderly black man, in Harriet Beecher Stowes Uncle Toms Cabin, a novel that protested the use of slavery. In today's terms, it means a black person who treats whites as superiors or who is eager to please them. Do not apply it to a person.

Uncle Toms Cabin (or Life Among the Lowly): 1852 antislavery novel and controversial bestseller by Harriet Beecher Stowe that increased sentiment against slavery. Main character Uncle Tom is a pious and faithful slave sold by his master to a brutal plantation owner, who later beat Uncle Tom to death. Before dying Uncle Tom prayed for his masters repentance and salvation. Some historians credit the novel with helping to prompt the Civil War. (See slavery.)


Voting Rights Act: Enacted on Aug. 6, 1965, it empowered the federal government to oversee voter registration and elections in communities, especially in the South, that had used tests to determine voter eligibility and or where registration or turnout was less than 50 percent in the 1964 presidential election. It also banned discriminatory literacy tests and expanded voting rights for non-English speaking Americans. The laws effects were wide and powerful. By 1968, for example, nearly 60 percent of eligible blacks were registered to vote in Mississippi. The Voting Rights Act was extended in 1970, 1975, and 1982 and despite some setbacks and debates had an enormous impact by helping elect black lawmakers at the local, state and national levels.


wigger: A derogatory term used for a white person who mimics language, dress and mannerisms of blacks; a white person who acts black.




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