Black History Names: Cinema greats– Canada, Cicely and Rex

In the past we’ve commemorated Black History Month by celebrating the names of great figures in history and the civil rights struggle. This year we salute some of the notable thespians, some now sadly forgotten, who have contributed so much to the cultural fabric of this country—and of course paying particular attention to their distinctive names.


Canada Lee is remembered for his passionate performance in Hitchcock’s classic, Lifeboat, in which he refused to speak in stereotypic black dialect. He was a vocal civil-rights activist who suffered from the Hollywood blacklist. His name at birth was Leonard Lionel Cornelius Vandgata, but stage name Canada makes an intriguing place-name possibility!

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