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A Rose Or Marguerite By Any Other Name

What's in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet. William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616), "Romeo and Juliet", Act 2 scene 2So goes the quote by William Shakespeare, and many people believe this is true. However, to many of African-American descent, both past and present, to be called out of your name, is one of the greatest insults imaginable. Mary, a chapter from volume one, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, of Dr. Maya Angelous five-volume autobiography, details the horror and rage she felt, and the retribution she administered, at such an act.The year was 1938, and Dr. Angelou, then going by her birth name, Marguerite Johnson, was 10 years old and working as a maid & cooks helper for a white woman named Mrs. Viola Cullinan, the daughter of wealthy Virginian parents. According to Miss Glory, the cook whose family had been slaves for the Cullinans, she had married beneath her to a man whose money didnt mount to much. Marguerite pitied Mrs. Cullinan because she was old, fat, and ugly and couldnt have children, though it was well known that her husband had two beautiful daughters by a colored lady. She tried to feel Mrs. Cullinans loneliness and pain, and tried very hard to make up for her barrenness by coming to work early and staying late. One evening Marguerite was asked to serve Mrs. Cullinan and her women friends their drinks on the closed-in porch. When asked her name, Mrs. Cullinan answers for her, Her names Margaret. A close pronunciation, but incorrect, nevertheless. Americans are particularly inept, I think, at pronouncing anything that has a foreign flair to it, or a foreign sound to it, and it's much easier for people to say Margaret, than Marguerite, or Andrea instead of Andrica. It is well known that the sweetest sound in any language is the sound of one's own name, so we don't take it mildly if somebody makes fun of our names or belittles us because of our name, or mispronounces our name. We...

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