Category: Black History names
Autherine Juanita Lucy was the first African-American student admitted to a white school in Alabama when she entered the U. of A. in 1956, with the aid of Thurgood Marshall and others at the NAACP, enduring hostile mobs and court battles. Her name is even more unique than the usual feminization of Arthur—Arthurine.
By Linda Rosenkrantz
It’s Throwback Thursday, and since we’re a few days away from Martin Luther King Day, and have recently been reminded of the Civil Rights leader’s achievements and struggles in the movie Selma, we’re looking back today to our blog honoring some of the most worthy namesakes among Dr. King’s fellow barrier-breaking heroes and heroines of the movement.
This year, for Black History month, we salute not the political activists or barrier breakers, but some distinguished African-American painters, sculptors and photographers–accentuating, of course, those with the most interesting names.
These Black history names range in time from portrait painter Joshua Johnson, born in 1763 and viewed as the first person of color to make his living as an artist in America, to contemporary women artists like Lorna Simpson, Ellen Gallagher and Kara Walker who confront issues of race head-on in their work.
The following is, of course, just a small representation of the countless distinguished artists of color.
Augusta Savage— (b.1892), a sculptor who was part of the Harlem Renaissance. Students in her Harlem studio included Jacob Lawrence and Gwendolyn Knight. She chose the unusual spelling of Agnus as her daughter’s name.
Chakaia Booker—(b.1953), an assemblage artist who has worked with a variety of materials, including black rubber tires, said to address African-American identity.
Clementine Hunter (b.1886)–pronounced clem-en-TEEN, just like Mrs. Winston Churchill— was originally named Clemence. A self-taught Louisiana Creole folk artist who began painting in her fifties, her work depicts plantation life in the early 20th century.
Black history is filled with the extraordinary names of extraordinary achievers. This being the first day of Black History Month, we thought we’d look back through African-American history, on the lookout for the (interesting) names of people who have made breakthroughs by being the first to achieve something, whether it be in the arena of goverment, Civil Rights, scholarship, the professions, sports or the arts. It’s quite surprising to see how recently some of them occurred.
Here are some outstanding black history names:
- Alexia Canada— first female African-American neurosurgeon (1984)
- Althea Gibson—first black to win a major tennis title (1956) and first black woman to play on the Ladies PGA golf tour (1964)
- Aretha Franklin—first black woman inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame (1986)
- Aulana Peters—first black woman appointed to the Securities and Exchange Commission (1984)
- Bessie Coleman—first black woman aviator (1921)
- Biddy Mason—first known black female property owner in L.A. (1866)
- Camilla Williams—first black woman to sing with the New York City Opera (1945)
- Charlotta Bass—considered the first black woman newspaper publisher (1912), and the first African-American to run for vice-president (1952)
- Condoleezza Rice –first female head of the National Security Council (2001), first black woman Secretary of State (2005)
- Constance Baker Motley—first black woman federal judge (1966)
- Cora M. Brown—first black woman in the US to be elected to a state senate (1952)
- Della Reese—first black woman to host a TV variety show (1969)
- Euzham Palcy—first black woman director of a feature film for a major studio (1989)
- Dorothea Towles—first professional black woman model (1949)
- Dorothy Dandridge—first black woman nominated for an Oscar in a leading role (1955)
- Ella Fitzgerald—first black woman to win a Grammy (1959)
- Gwendolyn Stewart King—first black woman commissioner of Social Security (1989)
- Hazel Johnson—first black woman army general (1979)
- Hazel Scott—first black entertainer to host her own TV show (1950)
- Ida Rollins—the first black woman dentist (1890)
- Jewel Plummer Cobb — the first black woman president of a California State University (1981)
- Joycelyn (born Minnie) Elders –the first black female Surgeon General of the U.S. (1993)
- Katherine Dunham—first black choreographer to work at the Metropolitan Opera House (1963)
- Lorraine Hansberry—first African-American to win the NY Drama Critics Award (1959)
- Lucy Ann Stanton—the first black woman college graduate (1850)
- Maggie Lena Walker—first black woman bank president (1903)
- Mamie Smith—first black woman to make a recording (1920)
- Marvel Jackson Cooke—first full-time black reporter on a mainstream paper (1950)
- Maude Rutherford—dancer who first introduced the Charleston on Broadway (1922)
- Maya Angelou (born Marguerite) – first black woman to have a nonfiction bestseller (1970); first black inaugural poet (1993)
- Michelle Obama–first African-American first lady (2009)
- Minnie M. Geddings Cox—first black US postmistress (1891)
- Minyon Moore—first black woman political director of the National Democratic Committee (1995)
- Octavia Butler—the first published female black science fiction writer (1976)
- Oprah Winfrey==first black woman to host a nationally syndicated weekday talk show (1986)