S. Lee Jamison
The New York Times
Happy St. Patrick's Day, Shaquille O'Neal!
So many African-Americans have Irish-sounding last names - Eddie Murphy, Isaac Hayes, Mariah Carey, Dizzy Gillespie, Toni Morrison, H. Carl McCall - that you would think that the long story of blacks and Irish coming together would be well documented. You would be wrong.
Randall Kennedy, a professor at Harvard Law School and the author of "Interracial Intimacies; Sex, Marriage, Identity and Adoption," said that when it comes to written historical exploration of black-Irish sexual encounters, "there are little mentions, but not much."
And most African-Americans do not know a lot about their family names.
"Quite frankly, I always thought my name was Scotch, not Irish." said Mr. McCall, the former New York State comptroller.
But the Irish names almost certainly do not come from Southern slaveholders with names like Scarlett O'Hara. Most Irish were too poor to own land. And some blacks, even before the Civil War, were not slaves.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with