Virgil Lentilbent of Reamed Creek, Ark. died in his trailer yesterday. He was 87.
Lentilbent, who worked as a custodian at the local Greyhound bus station for 42 years, had claimed to be the first person to coin the racial epithet "There's black people, and then there's niggers".
"He was awful proud of it [the phrase]," said his wife, Flossie. "That'd be purt near the first thing outta his mouth when he met a stranger. 'Name's Virg', he'd say, 'I'm that guy what first said there's black people and then there's niggers.'"
While there can be no actual proof that Lentilbent was in fact the first person to utter the phrase, a study at Colgate University's sociology department has shown that well over 2,000,000 people in the United States alone have claimed authorship of it. "We actually have a party for the whole department about every eight months or so to celebrate each ten thousandth person who claims to have invented the phrase," said Everett Sheffield, who is black and founded the study. "We're consistently amazed at how the people who champion white supremacy are always the worst examples of it. It'd be almost cute if it's roots weren't so steeped in bloodshed."
But not everyone agrees.
"A man of great wit and articulation has been called home to God", said Toby Roy Kilgore, host of a morning call-in show on Reamed Creek's AM radio WKKK and a lifelong friend of Lentilbent's. "And I doubt there's be a monument or even a plaque to commemorate his contribution to humanity. It's a goddamn disgrace."