updated 2/13/2007 6:20:13 AM ET 2007-02-13T11:20:13

The Westchester County Legislature declared the “symbolic elimination” of a common racial slur, saying its use “remains damaging, divisive and derogatory.”

Referring to the slur only as “The ‘N’ word,” the resolution passed Monday in this county north of Manhattan says it “is used in an ignorant and derogatory fashion to demean a black person.”

Legislator Clinton Young, who is black and drafted the resolution, said in an interview, “I hear it just too much in my community and in other communities throughout America. No matter who uses it or how they use it, it’s demeaning.”

“If people knew the origin of the word, I believe they would stop using it,” he said.

Asked if the resolution, which passed unanimously, impinged on free speech, he said, “We can exercise free speech by choosing not to use this hateful word.”

Actor Michael Richards’ heavily publicized use of the slur on stage last year prompted some black leaders to ask the public and the entertainment industry to stop using it.

Earlier this month, New York City Councilman Leroy Comrie introduced a similar resolution, which is yet to be voted on. In Washington, Rep. Charles Rangel, a Democrat, has been talking with Congressional Black Caucus members about taking some similar action in Congress, Rangel spokesman Emile Milne said.

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