African-American Heroine Names

African-American Heroine Names

As Black History Month segues into Women’s History Month this weekend, let's take a look at the names of some inspirational African-American heroines!

Compiling a wide-ranging list is not as easy as you might think – nor as it should be. Google and book searches tend to turn up a select list of already well-known names.

But then, late as usual, I finally bought my new year's calendar: A Journey Into 365 Days of Black History – Notable Women.

An array of admirable women are listed there, all of whom would provide wonderful role models (and lovely names) for any child. 

Here are some of the most inspirational Black heroine names for baby girls today, together with a short summary of their historical achievements.

African-American Heroine Names

Alice Dunbar-Nelson — Journalist, poet and author

Barbara Jordan — Texas Congresswoman who won fame during Nixon impeachment hearings

Bessie Coleman — Became the world’s only licensed Black pilot in 1922. She staged flying exhibitions to fund a school to train Black aviators.

Charlotte Ray — In 1872, became the first Black female lawyer.

Clara Stanton Jones — The American Library Association’s first African-American president

Clementine Hunter — Self-taught painter, born in 1887

Constance Baker Motley — First Black female federal judge

Coretta Scott King — Activist and widow of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

Dorothy West — Harlem Renaissance author

Ella Fitzgerald — Iconic jazz singer

Faye Wattleton — Women’s rights activist

Gwendolyn Brooks — Poet and first African-American writer to win the Pulitzer Prize

Hallie Quinn Brown — 19th century women’s rights activist

Harriet Tubman (born Araminta Ross) — Escaped enslavement to become an abolitionist and Union spy. Most famous for her work with the Underground Railroad.

Ida B. Wells-Barnett — Journalist and founding member of the NAACP

Jane Bolin — Judge and community activist. First Black woman to graduate from Yale Law School.

Josephine Baker — Performer, activist, and World War 2 spy

Juanita Hall — First Black actress to win a Tony Award

Kara Walker — Artist best known for her silhouettes

Lena Horne — Actress, singer, and civil rights activist

Lorraine Hansberry — Author of the 1959 play “A Raisin in the Sun”

Mabel Mercer — English singer

Mahalia Jackson — Gospel singer known as the "Queen of Gospel"

Marian Wright Edelman — Children’s Defense Fund founder

Natalie Hinderas — Composer and classical musician

Octavia Victoria Rogers Albert — Author and teacher

Pearl Bailey — Actress and singer

Phillis Wheatley — First published African-American female poet

Prudence Crandall — White woman arrested for teaching Black girls at her school in 1833

Rosa Parks — Heroine of the famous bus boycott that launched the civil rights movement

Rosetta Tharpe — Jazz and blues singer and songwriter

Ruby Dee — Actress, writer and activist

Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander — The first African-American Ph.D. in economics

Sarah Vaughan — Jazz musician

Shirley Chisholm — First Black woman elected to Congress

Sojourner Truth — Abolitionist and women’s rights activist

Susie King Taylor — Previously enslaved woman who became a Civil War nurse

Toni Morrison — Novelist who won the Nobel Prize in literature

Violette Neatley Anderson — In the 1920s, became the first Black female attorney to argue cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Wilma Rudolph — Multiple Olympic champion and world-record-breaking runner

Zensi Miriam Makeba — South African singer, songwriter and civil rights activist

About the Author

Pamela Redmond

Pamela Redmond

Pamela Redmond is the cocreator and CEO of Nameberry and Baby Name DNA. The coauthor of ten groundbreaking books on names, Redmond is an internationally-recognized baby name expert, quoted and published widely in such media outlets as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Today Show, CNN, and the BBC. She has written about baby names for The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, and People.

Redmond is also a New York Times bestselling novelist whose books include Younger, the basis for the hit television show, and its sequel, Older. She has three new books in the works.