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View Full Version : What do you consider COMMON last names for Black Americans?


Dana Marcy
Apr 22nd, 2006, 06:30 PM
That other thread about girls names got me thinking and here is my list of what I think are COMMON last names for Black Americans...

Smith
Williams
Jackson
Johnson
Jones
Taylor
Davis
Wilson
Robinson
Harris

Did yawl notice that 4 tennis players are represented by 3 of the last names? ;)

What are others?

Dawn Marie
Apr 22nd, 2006, 07:01 PM
Howard
Wilkerson
Thompson
Lewis

Your list is spot on. Williams and Robinson along with Harris are tops.

Knizzle
Apr 22nd, 2006, 07:16 PM
Wilkerson?? That's common?

Anyway:

Washington
Wright

Martian KC
Apr 22nd, 2006, 07:29 PM
And for some reason, Lee.

No Name Face
Apr 22nd, 2006, 08:04 PM
yeah all of those.

what about Palmer?
Foster?

Jakeev
Apr 23rd, 2006, 03:11 AM
Wilkerson?? That's common?

Anyway:

Washington
Wright

Washington and Harris.

My friend Tiffany says her last name, DuBois, is very common in the South.

Asif_Nawaz
Apr 23rd, 2006, 03:43 AM
Price
King
Slater
Baker
Johansson
Ramsey

416_Man
Apr 23rd, 2006, 03:59 AM
I find my last name really common for Black Americans:

Greene

In fact, my entire name could be the same as a typical African American name

Jesse Greene

:p

le bon vivant
Apr 23rd, 2006, 04:22 AM
Price
King
Slater
Baker
Johansson
Ramsey

LMAO @ Johansson. :scratch:

*looks in high school yearbook*

Turner
Evans
Carter

Basically, any main British last name is common among Black Americans. :shrug:

le bon vivant
Apr 23rd, 2006, 04:24 AM
lmao and isnt Williams like, the most COMMON African American name there is?

And strangely I've never known of a white person with the last name Williams except the actor Robin Williams.

darrinbaker00
Apr 23rd, 2006, 04:54 AM
lmao and isnt Williams like, the most COMMON African American name there is?

And strangely I've never known of a white person with the last name Williams except the actor Robin Williams.
That's nothin'. I've never heard of any white people named Washington since George and Martha.

Mr_Molik
Apr 23rd, 2006, 05:00 AM
cosby
:p

Pengwin
Apr 23rd, 2006, 03:00 PM
lmao and isnt Williams like, the most COMMON African American name there is?

And strangely I've never known of a white person with the last name Williams except the actor Robin Williams.

How about the greatest British entertainer of all time :awww:


...and the current Archbishop :tape:

In fact it's basically the most common Welsh surname I think :shrug:

Ryan
Apr 23rd, 2006, 03:32 PM
In my old junior high, pretty much the only last names black people had were Smith, Cain and Beals.

PointBlank
Apr 23rd, 2006, 03:51 PM
Williams, Evans, and Jones are the most common in my school. In my math class there are 11 people with the last name of Williams, though not all of them are African-American.

CooCooCachoo
Apr 23rd, 2006, 03:58 PM
Black? :tape:

Actually, I don't know.

Wendy Williams
Apr 24th, 2006, 11:08 AM
Williams of course. :cool: HOW U DOIN. ;)

Other ones that we folk luxuriate in are Allen (Debbie, Phylicia Ayers, Ray who's on some NBA team), Anderson (fat actor Anthony, singer Sunshine), Brown (Bobby, teen singer Chris, footballer Jim, George Stanford, Olivia from Miami Vice), Henderson, Jefferson, Miller, Phillips and Young.

No Name Face
Apr 24th, 2006, 01:56 PM
mine isn't common. justin's isn't either. what about the other black posters?


actually a lot of the black people that go to my school have ethnic sounding last names, i'm assuming a lot are from nigeria or ghana.

Helen Lawson
Apr 24th, 2006, 02:01 PM
Jefferson comes to mind.

I interviewed this woman once a long time ago, Lawanda Williams. Anyway, she ended up being totally white. Who would have known?

Rocketta
Apr 24th, 2006, 03:33 PM
Jefferson, Washington... a lot of blacks chose these last names after slavery....or they chose the slave master's last name which is why there are a lot of british names. Here's an interesting article.



African-American Names
Joseph E. Holloway, Ph.D.
California State University Northridge

Names have always been matters of great importance in the culture and history of the peoples of West and Central Africa. They are given at stages in an individual's life, and, as in so many traditional cultures in which magic played an important part of life, the real name given at birth by a particular relative must be kept secret lest it fall into the hands of someone who might use it in working evil magic against the person. Among Africans, moreover, a person's name may change over time. Assuming a new designation or name on the occasion of some striking occurrence in one's life was a generally accepted practice in African history. Names might change, too, when a person passed through one of the rites marking a new stage in his or her development.

In the Americas, naming practices among the enslaved were African in origin. As Africans did, African Americans changed their names corresponding to major changes in the life of the individual. This name shifting is clearly demonstrated by the experience of Frederick Douglass (javascript:glossary('Douglass, Frederick')), who began a series of name changes soon after escaping slavery: On the morning after our arrival at New Bedford, while at the breakfast-table, the question arose as to what name I should be called by. The name given me by my mother was Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey. I, however, had dispensed with the two middle names long before I left Maryland, so that I was generally known by the name Frederick Bailey. I started from Baltimore; I found it necessary again to change my nameÖ. I gave Mr. Johnson, Mr. Nathan Johnson of New Bedford, the privilege of choosing me a name, but told him he must not take from me the name "Frederick;" I must hold on to that a sense of identity.

Sojourner Truth (javascript:glossary('Truth, Sojourner')), the great crusader for black emancipation and the equality of women, was known as Isabella until age 20, when she was freed and left her master's plantation. She had a vision in a dream that told her about her new name and her mission to free her people. And, the modern African-American leader, Malcolm X, was known at various stages of his life as Malcolm Little, Homeboy, Detroit Red, Big Red, Satan, Malcolm, El-hajji, and Mali El Shabazz.

In many parts of Africa today, men, who leave their traditional settings and family, take on new names to mark the changes in their lives. (Read about Natchez, Mississippi, native Clifford Boxley's decision to change his name: http://jimcrowhistory.org/resources/narratives/Clifford_Boxley.htm (http://jimcrowhistory.org/resources/narratives/Clifford_Boxley.htm)) Nowhere is this tradition as vivid as in the jazz world, where name shifting to signal a major event in the life of the musician is common: Jelly Roll Morton (javascript:glossary('Morton, Jelly Roll')) (Ferdinand La Menthe), Satchmo (javascript:glossary('Armstrong, Louis')) (Louis Armstrong), Yardbird (Charles Parker), Lady (javascript:glossary('Holiday, Billie')) (Billie Holiday). The story of these name changes in the Americas follows the African pattern of using a new name to adapt to new circumstances and changes in the person's new life.

African-American Nicknames

A more direct survivor of African naming-practices is the use of nicknames. Almost every black person in slavery was known by two names: a given name and a name used only within the family circle. Lorenzo Dow Turner found a dual naming system that has survived among the Gullah-speaking African Americans (javascript:glossary('Gullah')) living in the Sea Islands of South Carolina. This system consists of an English (American) name given at birth and a more intimate name used exclusively by the family and community. Turner was surprised that previous scholarship had failed to note this practice or the importance of Africanisms in Gullah nomenclature. Recognizing this dual naming practice among enslaved Africans in the 18th century, slaveholders, in their advertisements of runaways in the South Carolina Gazette, always included both the "proper" (given) names and "country names" (the African names slaves retained).

In African-American naming practices, every child receives a given name at birth and a nickname that generally follows the individual throughout life. Some examples of these nicknames are Jo Jo, June, Tiny Baby, O.K., John-John, Mercy-Mercy, Baby Sister, Sister, "T," Sunny Main, Bo, Boo, Bad Boy, Playboy, and Fats. Among enslaved Africans, this practice was also evident in names used by slaves, such as Pie Ya, Puddin'-tame, Frog, Tennie C., Monkey, Mush, Cooter, John De Baptist, Fat-Man, Preacher, Jack Rabbit, Sixty, Pop Corn, Old Gold, Dootes, Angle-eye, Bad Luck, Sky-up-de Greek, Cracker, Jabbo, Cat-Fish, Bear, Tip, Odessa, Pig-Lasses, Rattler, Pearly, Luck, Buffalo, Old Blue, Red Fox, Coon, and Jewsharp.

Turner found that Gullah-speaking people preserved their language and nicknames using what they called basket names or day names. Their children always had two distinct names, an English one for public use and an authentic African name for private use by the extended family alone. Following are a few examples of Gullah "basket names," which are also straight, unchanged, present-day Tshiluba names:

Ndomba is the name given a Gullah child whose hand protrudes first at birth. It means, "I am begging (with my outstretched hand)."
Mviluki has a Gullah meaning of "a penitent." Its Luba source word is Mvuluki, a remembered one who doesn't forget his sins.
Sungila means "to save, help, deliver," while Kamba, a very common Luba name, comes from Munkamba, meaning "ancestor." The Gullah meaning of Kamba is "a grave."
Anyika, a Gullah name meaning "she is beautiful," is related to a Luba word, spelled exactly the same and meaning "to praise the beauty of."
Seba, a Gullah name meaning "a leather ornament," comes from the Luba word for hide or leather, tshisebe.


But, the Gullah day names Tulu (sleep), Tuma (send), Pita (pass by), Mesu (eyes), Kudima (to work or hoe), and Kudiya (to eat) are exactly the same in Gullah and Luba.

In the Sea Islands, children sometimes have not only their given names and basket names but also community names. The community gives the child a name that characterizes or is characteristic of the individual, such as Smart Child or Shanty (show off). This practice parallels Bantu naming practices in Zaire. Philadelphia Seventy-Sixers basketball center, Dikenibo Mutombo from Zaire, illustrates this point. His full name is Dikenibo Mutombo Mpolondo Munkamba Diken Jean-Jean-Jacque wa Mutombo. In order, these names are his uncle's name, his family surname, his grandfather's name, his nickname given by his village, his name given at birth, and his hometown village, wa Mutombo (which means "from the village Mutombo"). Other "creolized (javascript:glossary('Creoles'))" Gullah pet names (nicknames) that are typical of Bantu naming practices include names of animals or fish: De Dog, Doggie, Kitty, Fish, Yellowtail, Croker, Frog, Spider, Boy, Gal, Jumper, Tooti, Crocki, Don, Cuffy, Akebee, Dr. Buzzer, and Dr. Eagle. An integral part of Bantu culture is the unchanging secret "spirit name," something that the individual has that is uniquely his or her own from the past and is carried on to the next generation, given to a new baby so that it may remain incarnate. Thus, by a strange interweaving of religion and language, the "inner soul" of the speech of a cultural group is preserved.

http://www.slaveryinamerica.org/history/hs_es_names.htm

Rocketta
Apr 24th, 2006, 03:38 PM
another interesting paragraph...


African-American Names
Identification of blacks in genealogical records is difficult because the African names of slaves were largely disregarded. Blacks were usually given only American first names. In Connecticut, a man's wife and children often took his given name as their surname. For example, the sons of Primus Richards were known as George and Henry Primus. In the Records and Papers of the First Congregational Church, Hartford, blacks are listed in the index as "Negroes". There are no individual name listings, and slaves were often listed under the slave-owners' names (i.e., "Myers, Miers, Negroes of") with no identification of the person by name.
When slaves escaped to the North or were freed, they adopted surnames. Some slaves took surnames prior to being freed, but generally kept the name a secret from the white community. It is a common misconception that freed slaves took the surnames of their last owner. In fact, slaves often went by several surnames and made a final choice at the time they were emancipated or gained freedom. They often took the surname of their father, who may have been a white slave-master or overseer. Or, they took the name of a current owner, a former owner, a famous American, or a locally-prominent citizen.

http://www.cslib.org/blagen.htm

Rocketta
Apr 24th, 2006, 03:42 PM
more...

Many African Americans who were slaves were not given a last name, only a first name. If they were given a last name, it was the name of their master's. Therefore, Phillis Wheatley's name tells a lot about the time in which she lived, and gives clues to her life. Wheatley, the first Black poet published in America, was named Phillis after the name of the slave ship Phillis that brought her from Africa to America. Wheatley was the last name of her master and mistress, William and Susannah Wheatley. Unfortunately Phillis never wrote down what her original name was, and so it is lost to us today.

Many slaves didn't receive a last name until they were freed. Sometimes a slave took (or kept) the last name of their former master, or took a common name from the area in which they lived. Some African Americans adopted the names of famous Americans such as Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, or Clay, or from those who helped African Americans at the time, such as the 19th century abolitionist John Brown. According to Stuart Berg Flexner in his book Listening to America, many African Americans took the last name of Howard in honor of General Oliver Otis Howard, who was a Union general in the Civil War and head of the Freedman's Bureau from 1865-1874, and also the founder and early president of Howard University. The name Howard became so popular a name with African Americans at the time, that in the 1980s about one-third of all Howards in the United States were African American.

Listed below are the most common African American surnames in the United States:



1. Johnson (the most common surname for African Americans since 1830)

2. Brown
3. Smith
4. Jones
5. Williams
6. Jackson
7. Davis
8. Harris
9. Robinson
10. Thomas

http://www.bostonfamilyhistory.com/name_africa.html

Rocketta
Apr 24th, 2006, 03:44 PM
The nickname thing is def. a cultural tradition passed on because in the Caribbean as well, most people are given nicknames by family, as well as by their peers and go by those name. SOme of them funny as hell. For some reason i never really got 'stuck' with a nickname, although for a while my family used to call me by a few but they never stuck, and I never had any by my peers, thanks god, cause those are usually shameless :D

I know... :lol:

Heck I have a cousin we call Sambo for goodness sake...:lol:

Rocketta
Apr 24th, 2006, 03:48 PM
lol. did you have any :tape:

no we don't have any in my immediate family. :yeah:

That's probably why I don't like them....:unsure:

My nephews friends gave him one and then when they would call the house and use the nick to ask for him I would go, "no one lives here by that name but a xyz lives here." :tape:

harloo
Apr 24th, 2006, 04:03 PM
The nickname thing is def. a cultural tradition passed on because in the Caribbean as well, most people are given nicknames by family, as well as by their peers and go by those name. SOme of them funny as hell. For some reason i never really got 'stuck' with a nickname, although for a while my family used to call me by a few but they never stuck, and I never had any by my peers, thanks god, cause those are usually shameless :D

And no, my surname isn't common in the U.S. (but i'm not technically what you call Africa-American;) ) but it sure is common in the Islands.


I think Hill and Lewis are also common.

My uncle gave us all nicknames. My nickname was Moony(he came up with it after seeing me eat a moon pie):confused: He called my other cousins Smurf and Shakalake. It was so weird. He's from the south so I've always wondered if that anything to do with the strange nicknames?:lol:

Infiniti2001
Apr 24th, 2006, 05:13 PM
The nickname thing is def. a cultural tradition passed on because in the Caribbean as well, most people are given nicknames by family, as well as by their peers and go by those name. SOme of them funny as hell. For some reason i never really got 'stuck' with a nickname, although for a while my family used to call me by a few but they never stuck, and I never had any by my peers, thanks god, cause those are usually shameless :D

And no, my surname isn't common in the U.S. (but i'm not technically what you call Africa-American;) ) but it sure is common in the Islands.




you don't say... Girl,the nickname thing is worse in St Lucia especially since we speak creole/patois (french dialect) :lol: I know a man called John who has a son--- of course to people who don't know the boy's name or just don't care , the boy is little John in creole which is Ti John :haha: Everyone calls him by that name now. There's also a case of a man whose wife sent him grocery shopping and he forgot to buy peas. He mentioned it to someone and from that day he was known as pois :lol: Mind you the nicknames stay in the family and pass on for generations. I can go on and on, but there's not enough time :lol:

Like you, my surname is not at all common in the U.S, but it's especially common in the islands with French influence. And I won't post my nick here :p :lol:

Shenay La Soul
Apr 24th, 2006, 05:16 PM
Like you, my surname is not at all common in the U.S... It's got a french twist :p and I won't post my nick here :lol:

So does mine but I have no roots in Haiti, Martinique, Guadolupe or even France that Iím aware of. :o

Infiniti2001
Apr 24th, 2006, 05:19 PM
So does mine but I have no roots in Haiti, Martinique, Guadolupe or even France that Iím aware of. :o

Me either--- my island changed hands 14 times (7 times British and 7 times french) . The British ultimately won the battle, but the french influence remained.

hablo
Apr 24th, 2006, 05:24 PM
lmao and isnt Williams like, the most COMMON African American name there is?

And strangely I've never known of a white person with the last name Williams except the actor Robin Williams.
I once had a flat mate who's last name was williams and she was white.
I had another one and she was black (mixed). (however both were Canadians :tape: So I'm off topic :o :help: )
Both were terrible flat mates (I have such bad luck) :lol:

hablo
Apr 24th, 2006, 05:28 PM
cool thread :smoke:

Aquanetta
Apr 24th, 2006, 05:30 PM
White

Knizzle
Apr 24th, 2006, 06:41 PM
mine isn't common. justin's isn't either. what about the other black posters?


actually a lot of the black people that go to my school have ethnic sounding last names, i'm assuming a lot are from nigeria or ghana.

Mine isn't terribly common, most black ppl with my name are usually related to me, even ones I don't know are related to me.

!<blocparty>!
Apr 24th, 2006, 06:54 PM
']How about the greatest British entertainer of all time :awww:


...and the current Archbishop :tape:

In fact it's basically the most common Welsh surname I think :shrug:

Basically 90% of Wales' population either have Williams, Evans or Davies for surnames. :tape:

Aquanetta
Apr 24th, 2006, 06:56 PM
Basically 90% of Wales' population either have Williams, Evans or Davies for surnames. :tape:

Never met a black person last named Davies. Davis could've originally been Davies and then all it took was one typo to become Davis.

!<blocparty>!
Apr 24th, 2006, 06:58 PM
Never met a black person last named Davies. Davis could've originally been Davies and then all it took was one typo to become Davis.

Damn Americans, always shortening words. ;)

TdF_DBLL
Apr 24th, 2006, 07:12 PM
Black? :tape:

Actually, I don't know.

well I would say that I suppose White is a more common name for black people or not?

Slumpsova
Apr 24th, 2006, 07:27 PM
Washington, Jackson and Robinson is the most common to me. i've never seen any white people have those surnames in my entire life.

No Name Face
Apr 24th, 2006, 07:38 PM
my last name was ethnic (as in german) until it was americanized a while ago.

No Name Face
Apr 24th, 2006, 07:39 PM
Washington, Jackson and Robinson is the most common to me. i've never seen any white people have those surnames in my entire life.

i know a white robinson and jackson.

what about matthews?

le bon vivant
Apr 25th, 2006, 02:50 AM
OK so the Welsh were the ones who owned the slaves :tape: :lol:

Gonzo Hates Me!
Apr 25th, 2006, 03:20 AM
wow, interesting thread.

Dana Marcy, did you come up with that list on a whim? or was it in an article somewhere?

Gonzo Hates Me!
Apr 25th, 2006, 03:26 AM
okay, I will contribute something.

What about Campbell... Tisha Campbell, Naomi Campbell, Sol Campbell (EPL soccer star)

EDIT: black AMERICANS... okaaaaaayy. well, I dunno if Sol is American. But is this a universal last name? LOL

RatedR Superstar
Apr 25th, 2006, 03:29 AM
williams, theres a lot of them in the NBA

le bon vivant
Apr 25th, 2006, 03:34 AM
my last name was ethnic (as in german) until it was americanized a while ago.

Was there a 'V' where the 'W' is? LOL

No Name Face
Apr 25th, 2006, 06:21 AM
Was there a 'V' where the 'W' is? LOL

no. the 3rd letter was an 'H' instead of an 'L'
;)

but it's pronounced with the 'V' sound

Mattographer
Apr 25th, 2006, 06:34 AM
lmao and isnt Williams like, the most COMMON African American name there is?

And strangely I've never known of a white person with the last name Williams except the actor Robin Williams.
My sisters is a Williams family and they both are white :armed: My surname is different, though. An Irish surname.

Aquanetta
Apr 25th, 2006, 05:31 PM
my last name was ethnic (as in german) until it was americanized a while ago.

I thought it was your father that was black or is he biracial?

Dana Marcy
Apr 26th, 2006, 10:49 PM
wow, interesting thread.

Dana Marcy, did you come up with that list on a whim? or was it in an article somewhere?

No it was that topic about black female names that gave me the idea. Someone should do one for Carribbean and British blacks. I'm sure we'd get a different twist. :)