Category: African-American baby names

By Linda Rosenkrantz

In our previous salutes to Black History Month, we’ve looked back to Civil Rights and cultural heroes and other barrier breakers of the past. Today, instead, we’re focusing on the present– the history that’s being made right now with the breakthrough on diversity via the increased numbers of this year’s nominees and winners of various screen awards, with many more people of color making the lists than ever before. These include not just actors but directors, producers, writers and musicians.

Here are some of the more outstanding names.

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posted by: ClareB View all posts by this author

By Clare Bristow

If you’ve read a book by the great Toni Morrison, chances are you’ll remember some of her characters’ names. From vivid nicknames to evocative biblical names, it’s easy to believe there’s a story behind each one.

Morrison’s novels tell of African-American communities, from the time of slavery to the present. One of the issues she explores is the loss of African Americans’ identities and heritage, and how to reclaim them. Names play a huge part in this, as you might expect.

Change a person’s name, as slave owners did, and you take away their identity and cut them off from their ancestors. Once that connection is lost, how do free African Americans get it back? Should they accept the names they have been given, or choose their own names and forge a new heritage?

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For Black History Month this year we celebrate the women fine artists whose activism is reflected in their bold paintings, sculpture, photography and crafts, several of which expose African-American stereotypes and other forms of racism. (By Linda Rosenkrantz)

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We’re all familiar with the major figures of the Civil Rights movement–from Martin Luther King, Jr to Jesse Jackson to Rosa Parks, but our subjects here are activists who played important roles but aren’t necessarily so well remembered. And of course, since we’re all about the names, we’ve selected those who–along with Stokely Carmichael, Medgar Evers, Bayard Rustin and Thurgood Marshall–have intriguingly unusual appellations.(by Linda Rosenkrantz)

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Autherine

Autherine Juanita Lucy was the first African-American student admitted to a white school in Alabama when she entered the U. of A. in 1956, with the aid of Thurgood Marshall and others at the NAACP, enduring hostile mobs and court battles. Her name is even more unique than the usual feminization of ArthurArthurine.

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blues baby names

In honor of Black History Month, we salute some fabulous singers who contributed to the birth of the blues and the beginnings of jazz. Most are not as well known now as the Billie Holidays and Ella Fitzgeralds, but they all made significant contributions to this most American of art forms—and their vintage names are right on trend for babies today!

Adelaide

Jazz singer Adelaide Hall had a career that spanned 70 years, was a major figure in the Harlem Renaissance, pioneered the improvisational vocal techniques known as “scat” singing, and had great success in England. The place name Adelaide, used by Aussie actress Rachel Griffiths for her daughter, is a big Nameberry fave, now at Number 13; Number 321 nationally.

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