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.


Nina Mae McKinney played the lead in the 1929 film Hallelujah, creating a sensation with her “Swanee Shuffle” dance. In Europe she was dubbed the “Black Garbo.” Nina is an appealing multi-cultural staple, with references as varied as a Spanish word name, an Incan goddess, a Chekhov character and jazz great Nina Simone.

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