MLK Day Names: Today’s Female Activists
By Linda Rosenkrantz
In the past on Martin Luther King Day, we have honored some of Dr. King’s most inspiring fellow fighters in the original civil rights struggle. Today we focus on some of the impressive contemporary women who are carrying on that cause, including the three founders of Black Lives Matter and others who work through everything from politics to hip hop and rock.
Alicia Garza, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, is an organizer and writer confronting issues of rights for domestic workers, police brutality and racism. A powerful voice in the media, she received a 2016 Glamour Women of the Year Award. The name Alicia, the lacier version of Alice, now ranks at #381 and is currently represented by Oscar winner Alicia Vikander, while Alicia Florrick was the main character on The Good Wife.
- Alicia Garza, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, is an organizer and writer confronting issues of rights for domestic workers, police brutality and racism. A powerful voice in the media, she received a 2016 Glamour Women of the Year Award. The name Alicia, the lacier version of Alice, now ranks at #381 and is currently represented by Oscar winner Alicia Vikander, while Alicia Florrick was the main character on The Good Wife." >
- Astrid Silva is the undocumented immigrant from Mexico who gave the opening address at the Democratic National Convention in 2016 at the request of the Clinton campaign, speaking out in favor of DACA. One of the loveliest Scandinavian girls’ names, Astrid reentered the US Top 1000 in 2013 and is now #44 on Nameberry." >
- Selma, DuVernay was the first African-American woman to win the Best Director award at Sundance. She was influenced by the fact that her father witnessed the Selma to Montgomery marches as a child. Also creator of TV’s Black Sugar, she supports black independent film and has brought attention to racism in media. The glamorous name Ava is the third most popular girl name in the country, used by a number of celebs, including Reese Witherspoon and scores of others." >
- Beverly Bond, a former model and DJ, is now best known for forming the organization Black Girls Rock!, which has grown into a mentorship program for young women promoting empowerment. At the BGR Awards show in 2016, she was thanked by Hillary Clinton for her promotion of black women. The name Beverly has been MIA for decades, though it was in the Top 20 in the 1930s. Maybe hot granddaughter Everly can bring it back." >
- Alabama along with iconic sister Angela, and witnessing the murder of two close childhood friends, Fania Davis formed a passionate commitment to social justice, active in the civil rights, Black liberation and anti-racial violence movements. An Anglicization of the Irish name Fainne (though it could pass for Russian), Fania is an exotic member of the Fan family." >
- Majora Carter, an advocate for environmental justice who has transformed the quality of life for South Bronx residents, she co-founded Green for All with Van Jones. She has contributed to many TV shows including HBO’s The Black List, gave one of the first TED talks and became a MacArthur fellow in 2005. Majora is a pretty but very rare name for a girl; in the Nintendo Legend of Zelda series, Majora was a male villain." >
- Emma Watson’s date at the Golden Globes.) Marai is another rarity, possibly a variant of the German Marei or Marie." >
- Maxine Waters is the most senior of the 12 black women serving in the US Congress, a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus who pushed President Obama and others to confront racial issues. Maxine is one of those midcentury names that is making a comeback—along with every other conceivable Max variation. Hip musician Nick Hexum used it for his daughter in 2011." >
- Maya Wiley has followed his path, working for the NAACP legal fund and the ACLU. She started the Center for Social Inclusion, which works to confront structural racism and inequity. Her exotic name has been steadily rising in popularity, and is now in the Top 65. Most notable bearer: acclaimed writer Maya Angelou." >
- Black Lives Matter, Opal Tometi was responsible for setting up its social media presence, was also instrumental in the Black Alliance for Just Immigration and was listed in Cosmopolitan’s Top 100 extraordinary women. The opalescent Opal, a popular turn-of-the-last-century gem name, has been regaining its lustre. Not yet on the national list, it’s #560 on Nameberry." >
- Black Lives Matter. She was named an NAACP History Maker in 2015 and one of Fortune’s World’s Greatest Leaders the following year. Patrisse is a creative spelling of the French unisex name Patrice, which ranked in the 300s in the US in the 1980s, but has been off the charts since 1996." >
- Rosa Clemente is a community organizer, journalist, Hip Hop activist and was the 2008 Green Party vice-presidential candidate. She carries on the name of civil rights legend Rosa Parks. Rosa is now #639 in the US, 34 in Denmark and 53 in Northern Ireland." >
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on January 12th, 2018 at 8:43 am
Fantastic list! Such a lovely mix of old favorites and names I’ve never heard of, and a wonderful way to start the MLK weekend! thank you
on January 12th, 2018 at 9:20 am
Love this list! Also, a number of these women would make great namesakes for little boys: DuVernay, Bond, Davis, Carter, Wiley, Cullors, Clemente.
on January 12th, 2018 at 9:26 pm
A great example of associations shaping our opinions about names! Nameberry, if I remember correctly, referred to creative spellings popular in America’s red states as a trend they don’t particularly care for, but when associated with a political figure they approve of, a creative spelling isn’t so bad. NB’s opinions seem to shift based on who is wearing the creative names, which I suppose is natural. This is a nice list! Fun to see the modern names with older-fashioned ones like Beverly and vintage ones like Opal.
on January 14th, 2018 at 8:38 am
Thank you for this! What a great way to start off the MLK weekend! 1. I love the name derivatives 2. It helps you remember the NAMES that shaped our history; those that made it possible for your little ones to be who they are. More articles like this are greatly appreciated! Keep it up!
on January 14th, 2018 at 7:02 pm
And some really great names too – I especially love Astrid, Marai, Maxine and Rosa!
on January 15th, 2018 at 4:39 pm
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