37 Names You Can Give Your Child To Honor Their History
We all know Dorothy, Malcolm, and Martin — but what about Audra, Josephine, and Baldwin?
As in: Arthur Ashe, the first — and only — black male tennis player to win the U.S. Open, the Australian Open, and Wimbledon.
As in: Audra McDonald, the first person to win six(!) Tony Awards for acting.
Also consider: Audre, for poet, writer, and civil rights leader Audre Lord.
As in: James Baldwin, iconic author of works such as Giovanni’s Room and Go Tell It on the Mountain.
As in: Bayard Rustin, civil rights leader who focused on pacifism.
Also consider: His last name, Rustin, as a potential first name.
As in: Bessie Coleman, the first female African-American pilot.
Also consider: Her last name, Coleman, as a potential first name.
As in: Billie Holiday, jazz legend whose famous songs include “God Bless the Child.”
Also consider: Eleanora, her given name, or Ella, for fellow jazz sensation Ella Fitzgerald.
As in: Booker T. Washington, educator, orator, and civil rights leader who created the Tuskegee Institute.
As in: Cicely Tyson, whose credits include roles in the films Sounder and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.
Also consider: Tyson, her last name.
As in: Angela Davis, political activist, and scholar who rose to prominence in the ’70s, and Miles Davis, legendary jazz musician.
As in: Frederick Douglass, famous abolitionist, orator, and writer of works such as Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.
As in: Duke Ellington, legendary jazz composer and pianist whose known for works such as “Cotton Tail” and “It Don’t Mean a Thing if It Ain’t Got That Swing.”
As in: Emmett Till, a 14-year-old murder victim who helped put a face to the civil rights movement.
As in: Fannie Lou Hamer, legendary civil rights activist who helped African-Americans register to vote.
Also consider: Lou, her second name.
As in: Medgar Evers, civil rights activist with the NAACP. He was buried with full military honors after he was murdered in 1963.
As in: Harriet Tubman, famous abolitionist who helped hundreds of slaves escape to freedom on the Underground Railroad.
Also consider: Araminta, her given name.
As in: Hosea Williams, civil rights activist and minister who was close to Martin Luther King Jr.
As in: Ida B. Wells, journalist, women’s rights activist, and civil rights activist who was a pivotal part of the anti-lynching movement.
Also consider: Bell, her second name, or Belle, in honor of Dido Elizabeth Belle, known as the first black British aristocrat and the subject of the 2013 film Belle.
As in: Josephine Baker, legendary entertainer and civil rights activist.
Also consider: Baker, or her given name, Freda.
As in: Langston Hughes, famous poet and writer of works such as “Black Nativity” and “Montage of a Dream Deferred” who helped popularize the Harlem Renaissance.
Also consider: Hughes, his last name.
As in: Lena Horne, famous entertainer and civil rights activist whose credits include Ziegfeld Follies.
As in: Marian Anderson, legendary opera singer who was the first African-American to perform with the Metropolitan Opera.
As in: Bob Marley, Jamaican reggae icon who has sold more than 20 million albums.
Also consider: Nesta, his given name. When he was a child, an official accidentally switched the names Robert and Nesta on his passport.
As in: Maya Angelou, civil rights activist and author of works such as I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
Also consider: Marguerite, Maya’s given name. Maya was a nickname given to her by her first husband.
As in: Toni Morrison, Nobel and Pulitzer Prize–winning author of works such as Beloved, The Bluest Eye, and Song of Solomon.
Also consider: Ardelia, her middle name, or Chloe, her given name.
As in: Nat King Cole, iconic jazz musician famous for songs such as “Nature Boy” and “Mona Lisa,” as well as the The Nat King Cole Show.
Also consider: Cole, his last name.
As in: Nina Simone, civil rights activist and legendary singer of “Feeling Good” and “I Put a Spell on You.”
Also consider: Simone, her adopted last name, or Eunice, her given name.
As in: Ossie Davis, civil rights activist, writer, and actor in films such as Do the Right Thing and Jungle Fever.
Also consider: Raiford or Chatford, his given first and middle name.
As in: Quincy Jones, iconic composer and producer of albums such as Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall, Thriller, and Bad.
As in: Rosa Parks, civil rights icon who refused to give her seat up on a segregated bus.
Also consider: Claudette, after Claudette Colvin, who refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus months before Rosa Parks.
As in: Ruby Dee, legendary actress and activist who was also married to Ossie Davis; and Ruby Bridges, the first black child to desegregate an elementary school in the South.
As in: Serena Williams, the current No. 1-ranked tennis player in women’s tennis.
As in: Stokely Carmichael, Trinidad-born civil rights activist.
Also consider: Kwame, the name he adopted for himself.
As in: Thurgood Marshall, Supreme Court Justic, and prior to that, lawyer in the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education.
Also consider: Marshall, his last name. And if you want to go for authenticity, it’s technically spelled “Thoroughgood” — it was shortened in his childhood.
As in: Venus Williams, tennis superstar who has won seven Grand Slam titles.
As in: Alice Walker, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Color Purple.
Also consider: Alice, her first name.
As in: Zadie Smith, British novelist of works such as White Teeth and On Beauty.
Also consider: Sadie, her given name.
As in: Zora Neale Hurston, legendary author whose works include the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God.
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