Black History Names
Black history names include the names of African-Americans throughout US history who've achieved extraordinary things.
Among the Black history names here are the names of politicians, activists, writers, artists, businesspeople and others who might make worthy namesakes for contemporary babies.
Female Black history names include names of historical heroes such as Harriet, Ida, Malcolm, and Booker. They may also take inspiration from influential Black artists throughout history, from Etta and Billie to Otis and Hendrix. Black history names come from centuries of history, from the Renaissance to the late twentieth century. Note: While there are many notable figures from Black and African-American history with ordinary names, we've focused on the names that are more clearly associated with historic heroes and heroines. Also here are many last names that can be used as firsts.
Origin:German form of Latin Augustus
Description:The name August is at its highest point since the 1890s, when it ranked among the Top 100 boy names in the US. And deservedly so, given its great meaning, historic roots, and cool nicknames.
Description:Cora is a lovely, old-fashioned girls' that has been recently rejuvenated by its contemporary-feeling simplicity. In fact, Cora seemed headed straight for the top of the popularity list when the coronavirus pandemic somewhat weakened its appeal.
Origin:French feminine variation of Joseph
Description:Josephine, with its large measure of class and character and a gently offbeat quality, has been on a gentle uphill climb in the US for over 30 years, now ranking in the Top 100. With an intriguing number of vivacious nicknames, from Jo to Josie to Fifi to Posy, Josephine is a Nameberry favorite.
Origin:English form of Milo
Meaning:"soldier or merciful"
Description:Miles, which has a permanent veneer of cool thanks to jazz great Miles Davis, is a confident and polished boys' name that's an American classic. Always ranking in the US Top 1000, it's been drifting up the charts for the past half century but has never been TOO popular.
Origin:French feminine version of Clement, Latin
Description:Clementine is a Nameberry favorite that has finally broken back into the US Top 1000 after more than half a century off the list. Still, its style value may mean there are more Clementines than you might guess in your neighborhood—it may be a name that raises Mom's eyebrows, but it won't surprise your friends.
Meaning:"the hazelnut tree"
Description:Hazel has a pleasantly hazy, brownish-green-eyed, old-fashioned image that more and more parents are choosing to share. Former Old Lady name Hazel reentered the popularity lists in 1998 and now is near the top of the charts.
Description:In the Old Testament, Levi was the third son of Leah and Jacob, from whom the priestly tribe of Levites descended; in the New Testament, Levi was Matthew's given name before he became an apostle. It is suspected that Levi derives from the Hebrew word yillaweh, meaning “he will join.”
Origin:Greek; Central American Indian empire name; Latinate variation of May; Spanish, diminutive of Amalia; variation of Maia; Hebrew
Description:In addition to being the name of a Central American culture, Maya was the legendary Greek mother of Hermes by Zeus, and means "illusion" in Sanskrit and Eastern Pantheism. It can also be spelled Maia, though both names have so many possible origins and meanings that not all of them are related. To the Romans, Maia/Maya was the incarnation of the earth mother and goddess of spring, after whom they named the month of May.
Meaning:"all, completely; fairy maiden"
Description:Ella has parallel derivations, first as the Norman variation of the Germanic Alia—itself a nickname for names containing the element ali. It’s also a Hebrew name, referring to a tree in the pistachio family or in modern Hebrew, "goddess." In English speaking countries and Scandinavia, Ella developed as a diminutive for names beginning with El-, such as Eleanor and Elizabeth.
Meaning:"devotee of St. Colomba"
Description:Malcolm is a warm and welcoming Scottish appellation (originally Mael-Colium) that fits into that golden circle of names that are distinctive but not at all odd. A royal name in Scotland, Malcolm is also a hero name for many via radical civil rights activist Malcolm X.
Description:Sonny is one of the generic boy nickname names making a surprise reappearance, and it was recently used by actor Jason Lee. Another surprise: It's been on the US Top 1000 list every year since 1927, reaching a peak in 1975, when it hit Number 428.
Description:Jacob comes from the Latin name Iacobus, which was ultimately derived from the Hebrew name Ya’aqov. In the Old Testament, Jacob was one of the most important patriarchs of the tribes of Israel. He was the youngest son of Isaac and Rebecca and the twin brother of Esau, as well as the husband of both Leah and Rachel. The 12 tribes of Israel evolved from his 12 sons.
Origin:Surname from place name
Description:Wells is a newly-famous baby name thanks to pregnancy guru Rosie Pope, who uses it as the short form of the buttoned-up Wellington, name of her youngest child.
Meaning:"with healing power"
Description:Althea is a poetic, almost ethereal name found in Greek myth and pastoral poetry, associated in modern times with the great tennis player Althea Gibson, the first African-American to win at Wimbledon.
Origin:English, Scottish, Dutch, German, and Scandinavian, diminutive of various names ending in lena
Description:This pet form of Helena and other ena-ending names, long used as an independent name, is attracting notice again as an option both multicultural and simple. Lena was a Top 100 name from 1880 to 1920.
Description:Many vowel names stylish a century ago are coming back, and Ida seems like a possible, logical successor to Ada and Ava.
Origin:English variation of French Henriette
Description:Harriet has long been considered a stylish, upscale name in England, but it's still waiting to be revived in the US—though some parents seeking a solid, serious semi-classic are beginning to consider it.
Meaning:"healer; born in the morning"
Description:A short but strong biblical name with multicultural appeal, Asa is enjoying new visibility thanks to hot young actor Asa Butterfield of Hugo fame.
Origin:Surname or word name
Description:New to the US Top 1000 in 2015, Wilder is on many parents' possibility lists, one of the new generation of bad boy names growing in popularity. Wilder got a big boost in interest through Goldie Hawn's grandson, born in 2007, via son Oliver.
Description:Cornelius, the New Testament name of a third century Pope and saint, is one of those venerable Latin names on the edge of consideration, despite the corny nickname alert.