January 23, 2020

A brief history of black names, from Perlie to Latasha
Most people recognize that there are first names given almost exclusively by black Americans to their children, such as Jamal and Latasha. While fodder for comedians and social commentary, many have assumed that these distinctively black names are a modern phenomenon. My research shows that’s not true.Long before there was Jamal and Latasha, there was Booker and Perlie. The names have changed, but my colleagues and I traced the use of distinctive black names to the earliest history of the United States.As scholars of history, demographics and economics, we found that there is nothing new about black names. Black names aren’t newMany scholars believe that distinctively black names emerged from the civil rights movement, perhaps attributable to the Black Power movement and the later black cultural movement of the 1990s as a way to affirm and embrace black culture. Before this time, the argument goes, blacks and whites had similar naming patterns. Historical evidence does not support this belief.Until a few years ago, the story of black names depended almost exclusively on data from the 1960s onward. New data, such as the digitization of census and newly available birth and death records from historical periods, allows us to analyze the history of black names in more detail.We used federal census records and death certificates from the late 1800s in Illinois, Alabama and North Carolina to see if there were names that were held almost exclusively by blacks and not whites in the past. We found that there were indeed.For example, in the 1920 census, 99% of all men with the first name of Booker were black, as were 80% of all men named Perlie or its variations. We found that the fraction of blacks holding a distinctively black name in the early 1900s is comparable to the fraction holding a distinctively black name at the end of the 20th century, around 3%. What were the black names back then?We were interested to learn that the black names of the late 1800s and early 1900s are not the same black names that we recognize today.The historical names that stand out are largely biblical such as Elijah, Isaac, Isaiah, Moses and Abraham, and names that seem to designate empowerment such as Prince, King and Freeman.These names are quite different from black names today such as Tyrone, Darnell and Kareem, which grew in popularity during the civil rights movement. Once we knew black names were used long before the civil rights era, we wondered how black names emerged and what they represented. To find out, we turned to the antebellum era – the time before the Civil War – to see if the historical black names existed before the emancipation of slaves.Since the census didn’t record the names of enslaved Africans, this led to a search of records of names from slave markets and ship manifests. Using these new data sources, we found that names like Alonzo, Israel, Presley and Titus were popular both before and after emancipation among blacks. We also learned found that roughly 3% of black Americans had black names in the antebellum period – about the same percentage as did in the period after the Civil War. But what was most striking is the trend over time during enslavement. We found that the share of black Americans with black names increased over the antebellum era while the share of white Americans with these same names declined, from more than 3% at the time of the American Revolution to less than 1% by 1860.By the eve of the Civil War, the racial naming pattern we found for the late 1800s was an entrenched feature in the U.S. Why is this important?Black names tell us something about the development of black culture, and the steps whites were taking to distance themselves from it.Scholars of African American cultural history, such as Lawrence W. Levine, Herbert Gutman and Ralph Ellison, have long held that the development of African American culture involves both family and social ties among people from various ethnic groups in the African diaspora.In other words, people from various parts of Africa came together to form black culture as we recognize it today. One way of passing that culture on is through given names, since surnames were stolen during enslavement.How this culture developed and persisted in a chattel slavery system is a unique historical development. As enslavement continued through the 1800s, African American culture included naming practices that were national in scope by the time of emancipation, and intimately related to the slave trade.Since none of these black names are of African origin, they are a distinct African American cultural practice which began during enslavement in the U.S.As the country continues to grapple with the wide-ranging effects of enslavement in the nation’s history, we cannot – and should not – forget that enslavement played a critical role in the development of black culture as we understand it today. [ Like what you’ve read? Want more? Sign up for The Conversation’s daily newsletter. ]This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts.Read more: * How a heritage of black preaching shaped MLK’s voice in calling for justice * What everyone should know about Reconstruction 150 years after the 15th Amendment’s ratificationTrevon Logan does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Top news around the world
Coronavirus Disease

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

Around the World

Celebrity News

> Latest News in Media

Watch It
Mario Lopez, Tiffani Thiessen react to Dustin Diamond’s cancer diagnosis | Page Six Celebrity News
January 15, 2021
x4Hz209X0eg
Why 'Bling Empire' stars were skeptical to join the Netflix reality series | Page Six Celebrity News
January 15, 2021
3oHt4Cqr1J0
Bella Thorne defends Armie Hammer against allegations | Page Six Celebrity News
January 15, 2021
W0-pu9wJVkE
Cannabis Activist Adam Eidinger Offering Free Weed with COVID Vaccine | TMZ
January 19, 2021
c-OK45k_pUw
Dr. Dre Back in the Studio After Brain Aneurysm | TMZ TV
January 19, 2021
BEIFyd-jdvI
Michael B. Jordan & Lori Harvey Steam Up The Ocean | TMZ TV
January 19, 2021
oqqXQ5gIyg8
"Bachelorette" Stars Clare Crawley & Dale Moss Split
January 19, 2021
z44RPxheM9w
Alexis Sharkey's Cause of Death Revealed | E! News
January 19, 2021
Yny8FX1A68M
"The Bachelor's" Sarah Trott Speaks Out After Dramatic Exit | E! News
January 19, 2021
d9JrjIoviiQ
Netflix Shares Skyrocket Following Blowout Q4 Results
January 19, 2021
plCb9L5qQeQ
How The Bee Gees Brothers Found Success As Songwriters
January 19, 2021
MpWcrHh7-_E
'Silence of the Lambs' Reunion! Anthony Hopkins & Jodie Foster Talk Dr. Lecter | Actors and Actors
January 19, 2021
u2QjdRaLfa8
TV Schedule
Late Night Show
Watch the latest shows of U.S. top comedians

Sports

Latest sport results, news, videos, interviews and comments
Latest Events
19
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Leicester City - Chelsea
19
Jan
ENGLAND: Championship
Derby County - Bournemouth
19
Jan
ENGLAND: Championship
Rotherham - Stoke City
19
Jan
ENGLAND: Championship
Watford - Barnsley
19
Jan
ENGLAND: Championship
Reading - Coventry
19
Jan
SPAIN: La Liga
Alaves - Sevilla
19
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
West Ham United - West Bromwich Albion
19
Jan
SPAIN: La Liga
Cadiz - Levante
19
Jan
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Valladolid - Elche
18
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Arsenal - Newcastle United
18
Jan
ITALY: Serie A
Cagliari - AC Milan
17
Jan
ITALY: Serie A
Inter Milan - Juventus
17
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Liverpool - Manchester United
17
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Sheffield United - Tottenham Hotspur
17
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester City - Crystal Palace
17
Jan
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Bayern Munich - SC Freiburg
17
Jan
ITALY: Serie A
Napoli - Fiorentina
17
Jan
ITALY: Serie A
Atalanta - Genoa
16
Jan
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Borussia Dortmund - Mainz
16
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Fulham - Chelsea
15
Jan
ITALY: Serie A
Lazio - Roma
14
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Arsenal - Crystal Palace
13
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester City - Brighton
13
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur - Fulham
13
Jan
GERMANY: National cup
Holstein Kiel - Bayern Munich
12
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Burnley - Manchester United
12
Jan
SPAIN: La Liga
Atletico Madrid - Sevilla
10
Jan
ITALY: Serie A
Juventus - Sassuolo
10
Jan
ITALY: Serie A
Udinese - Napoli
Find us on Instagram
at @feedimo to stay up to date with the latest.
Featured Video You Might Like
zWJ3MxW_HWA L1eLanNeZKg i1XRgbyUtOo -g9Qziqbif8 0vmRhiLHE2U JFCZUoa6MYE UfN5PCF5EUo 2PV55f3-UAg W3y9zuI_F64 -7qCxIccihU pQ9gcOoH9R8 g5MRDEXRk4k
Copyright © 2020 Feedimo. All Rights Reserved.