Category: African-American hero names

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)



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!


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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Martin Luther King Day Names

To commemorate Martin Luther King Day, we honor some of his fellow heroes and heroines of the civil rights movement.  It would be impossible to list all of them, so here are some of the most worthy namesakes.

AMELIA Boynton Robinson – brought Dr. King to Selma in 1953

ANGELA Davis  –radical Black activist, advocate of racial justice

CARLOTTA Walls – youngest member of the Little Rock Nine students who desegregated Central High School in 1957

CHARLAYNE Hunter-Gault –one of the first two African-American students to enter the University of Georgia in 1961

CLARA Luper – activist known as the ‘Mother of the Civil Rights Movement’

CLAUDETTE Colvin – refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus nine months before Rosa Parks did

CORETTA Scott King – Dr. King’s full partner in the civil rights movement

DAISY Bates —  a key figure in the integration of Central High School in Little Rock

DOROTHY Cotton – the highest ranking female in Dr King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference

ELEANOR ROOSEVELT —   a civil rights activist during her husband’s tenure as President.

ELLA  Baker – influential activist, key figure in the NAACP, SCLC and in the creation of the Student Noviolent Coordinating Committee

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African-American Hero Names

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., an American hero, was named for a hero of his father’s, the religious reformer Martin Luther. King and his father were both originally named Michael, until the family traveled to Germany in the 1930s and King Sr. decided to change both his own name and his son’s to honor the original Martin Luther.

Despite Dr. King‘s stature in our country, few African-Americans today choose to name their children after him — perhaps because both Martin and Luther are a tad dated and refer so closely to the earlier white hero.

But other African-American heroes, historic and modern, from politics as well as sports and the arts, do inspire thousands of namesakes who can use their famous names as a guiding light for their lives.

Here are some African-American hero names that have been popular in recent years, along with a few fresh ideas:

BOOKER T. Washington
COLIN Powell
JACKIE Robinson
JADA Pinkett Smith
Michael JORDAN
KIMORA Lee Simmons
LeBRON James
Dr. MAE Jemison (astronaut)
MAYA Angelou
MEKHI Phifer
PHILLIS Wheatley (early writer)
ROSA Parks
SERENA Williams
Sojourner TRUTH
TYRA Banks
VENUS Williams
George WASHINGTON Carver
ZORA Neale Hurston

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