The Null Device

The meaning of Mozingo

LA Times journalist Joe Mozingo always thought that his family name was Italian, or possibly Basque. Then he discovered that it was Bantu, and the first Mozingo in America was a slave from the Congo, given the name Edward, who bought his freedom and became a free man in the brief period that was possible; over the next few generations, the Mozingo family line bifurcated and spread; the exact details were lost to history, but when the name next emerged, some of its bearers were considered white, and others considered black.

Mozingo then went to track down as many Mozingos in America as he could. Some had discovered the truth and had more details. Others had elaborate theories about why Mozingo is a proper white European names—tales of it being very common in certain Italian cities (whose phone books revealed not a single Mozingo), or of famed mountains named Mont Zingeau in France or Switzerland (of which no geographical records exist), of bogus Spanish etymologies, even an acceptably Caucasian founding myth involving an Italian boy named Moses Mozingo. One self-assuredly non-African Mozingo was a fount of racial prejudice, and spoke of family members—also named Mozingo—who had been in the Ku Klux Klan (making them, in the author's words, the only Bantu white supremacists in the US).

There are 3 comments on "The meaning of Mozingo":

Posted by: unixdj Wed May 26 23:09:31 2010

In some places it was common for slaves to adopt the family name of their master. So it's possible that Joe's ancestors were owners of Bantu slaves.

Posted by: ianw Fri May 28 23:41:55 2010

that is (needless to say?) not a logical conclusion. Perhaps if in some places owners would adopt the name of a slave..

Posted by: Mozingo relation Sat Aug 7 22:33:28 2010

I am very excited to be sent this article. One more piece of the puzzle fits. I have enjoyed reading the first 2 parts of Joe Mozingo's article.