In search of the meaning of ‘Mozingo’

A slave house remains virtually intact at Locust Grove, a 348-year-old plantation in Walkerton, Va.

My parents always said they thought “Mozingo” was Italian. But this was offered only as theory.

We were open to suggestions.

One came from an acquaintance who said he found a bunch of Mozingos in a phone book in the Imperial Valley and was told they all were Basque shepherds. On this authority, we became French Basque.

Next we heard that “Mozingo” was an Americanized version of “Mont Zingeau,” a mountain in France or maybe Switzerland I could never find on a map.

All of this was beginning to feel a bit dubious when I met Sherrie Mazingo, whose name is a variation of ours. Sherrie was a broadcast journalism professor at USC when I was a grad student there in 1996.

She was black — and she had news.

She’d learned from genealogists at a family reunion in North Carolina that the Mozingos probably descended from a “Bantu warrior” from the Congo who became an indentured servant in Virginia in the 1600s.

That would mean that all Mozingos in America — including me, who grew up in Dana Point, the blue-eyed, surfing son of a dentist — had a Bantu last name. Read more at the Los Angeles Times

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