School Desegregation

What is Ebonics?

Ebonics was developed to improve the language skills of African-American students. It is Black English, renamed in 1996, and consists of a combination of the words “ebony” and “phonics.” During the 1960s and 1970s, Black English was called Black Vernacular English (BVE) and in the 1980s and 1990s became known as African American Vernacular English (AAVE). Some scholars say that it is similar to other dialects, consisting of distinct grammar and syntax patterns. Ebonics reached national attention in 1996, when the Oakland, California, school board agreed to make it “a second language” and ordered all teachers to be trained in its grammar and to respect this speech used by so many African American students. This decision drew national criticism.


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