On the eve of George Washington's birthday, Associated Press writer Jesse Washington investigates why the founding father's surname now belongs predominantly to African-Americans. The 2000 U.S. Census counted 163,036 people with the last name Washington, 90 percent of whom were black — a far higher percentage than any other name. Writes Washington: The story of how Washington became the "blackest name" begins with slavery and takes a sharp turn after the Civil War, when all blacks were allowed the dignity of a surname.

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