Black History Baby Names: Unusual names of Civil Rights heroes

To commemorate Black History month, we’re looking today at the names of some of the less well known Civil Rights leaders and activists. We’re all familiar with the major figures— from Martin Luther King to Jesse Jackson to Rosa Parks–but our subjects here are some activists who played important roles but might not be as well remembered.
And, of course, since we’re also all about the names, we’ve selected those who— along with the better known Stokely Carmichael, Bayard Rustin, Medgar Evers and Thurgood Marshall— have intriguingly unusual appellations. Here, then, some out-of-the-ordinary black history baby names.


Winson Hudson

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Hudson was an early NAACP chapter executive, initiated a lawsuit to desegregate her county’s schools and helped integrate various public institutions. Winson—which sounds like a male name that’s lost its’ t’--was actually her middle name, and quite possibly a family surname. She was born with the unfortunate first name of Anger.

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15 Responses to “Black History Baby Names: Unusual names of Civil Rights heroes”

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sparrowfinch Says:

February 8th, 2013 at 1:12 am

Autherine is really interesting. Part Author/Story and part Katherine. Very pretty name and she was a very pretty woman!

Kibby Says:

February 8th, 2013 at 9:09 am

Love Marvel, I hadn’t realized it had such a long history as a name!

melissa2 Says:

February 8th, 2013 at 9:42 am

I really don’t understand how Clyde hasn’t been taken over by the hipsters yet. It’s awesome!

detailsgirl Says:

February 8th, 2013 at 11:29 am

I think Kennard is also a neat alternative to Kenneth.

EmilyVA Says:

February 8th, 2013 at 12:17 pm

I know these are unusual civil rights names but my favorite is still Martin~ for a boy! I was absolutely furious that the “experts” at nameberry said it would be good for a girl. I have never met anyone named Martin so it seems unique to me. My favorite name on the list is Unita. I think its really cool and a good spin on Unity.

GoodHope Says:

February 8th, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Septima Poinsette wouldn’t look out of place on the Nameberry forums.

There are a lot of great names here: Clyde, Prathia, Hosea, Stetson, Esau. (I’ve always thought the “Esau on the Seesaw” rhyme is what’s holding Esau back, but I’d love to see more of it.) Autherine and Marvel are neat, if not something I’d use.

I think Unita is my favorite from the list. I love the idea of Unity, but I can’t get over the evil creepiness of Unity Mitford. Unita has the same great sentiment with the added bonus of a positive role model. Lovely!

encore Says:

February 8th, 2013 at 12:39 pm

I really like Autherine and Unita.

evetallulah Says:

February 8th, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Love Marvel!

name-obsession Says:

February 8th, 2013 at 11:58 pm

None of these names really strike me, but some favorite names from the civil rights era are Alice (Walker, the writer) and of course Rosa. Who couldn’t love her?

Flick Says:

February 10th, 2013 at 10:31 am

Hosea and Esua are really awesome.

tori101 Says:

February 12th, 2013 at 1:14 pm

Reading this, just made me think of how brave these civil right activists and African-Americans were and how barbaric it was that individuals had to fight for civil rights. I know that the UK had/has issues with racism and equality but I’m glad that their fight wasn’t as extreme as it was in America. It makes me feel proud that our country was more accepting and that we didn’t infiltrate the same amount of inequality as American’s states did.

Anyway onto the names, I like Clyde – hipsters need to jump onto this – I also like Unita and Marvel. My favourite civil right names are Rosa & Luther!

@ EmilyVA Nameberry experts are strange at times the idea of Martin for a girl is silly especially as Martin as the female variant of Martina! Martin is a great name – use it!

Daisy_ Says:

February 14th, 2013 at 8:01 pm

Most of these names aren’t unusual, a lot of them are biblical. Unfortunately today, some people name their children unusual names.

Nyx Says:

May 31st, 2013 at 5:15 pm

Out of everything, the name that most struck me was one that wasn’t even touched upon…

Kennard – part Kenneth, Ken, Kendall, Kendrick, Kenzie, and part Bernard, Leonard, Rainard/Reynard, Edward, Howard, Richard, and Willard. Yeah, I could see this name finding a nitch with parents wanting something different while keeping a familiar feel.

tct1219 Says:

November 8th, 2013 at 12:45 am

Septima is very pretty. I didn’t realize it when she was born, but naming my daughter Bayard “Bay” is making so many other names seem insubstantial when compared with Bayard Rustin’s legacy. I feel like every sibling will need an equally -in its own way- inspiring association with some historical figure.

survivedall Says:

May 19th, 2016 at 4:02 pm

There are some lovely names on this list, and moreover, incredible people!

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