687+ African-American Last Names [All Categories]

Black Last Names

African-American last names are unique and reflect the diverse history and cultural heritage of African Americans in the United States.

Here are some characteristics of African-American last names:

  • Slavery era influence: Many African-American last names have roots in the slavery era when enslaved Africans were given the last names of their slave owners or were forced to adopt English last names. These names may also reflect the region of origin or ethnic group of the enslaved Africans.
  • African roots: Some African-American last names are derived from African languages and cultural traditions. For example, names such as “Ade” and “Olu” are of Yoruba origin, while “Jalloh” and “Keita” are of Mandinga origin.
  • Geographical origins: African-American last names often reflect the geographical origins of their bearers. For example, names like “Jackson,” “Washington,” and “Lee” are associated with the southern United States.
  • Family heritage: African-American last names may also reflect the heritage and cultural traditions of the family or the community. For example, names like “Crenshaw,” “Brooks,” and “Clay” are associated with African-American cultural traditions and have been passed down from generation to generation.
  • Creative spellings: Some African-American last names have unique spellings or variations of common names. This may be due to creative spellings or alterations made to original names, or to reflect a more African cultural heritage.
  • Symbolism: African-American last names may also be symbolic or reflect an individual’s aspirations or values. For example, names like “Freedom,” “Justice,” and “Hope” reflect the desire for equality, justice, and progress among African Americans.

Overall, African-American last names are diverse and reflect the rich cultural heritage and complex history of African Americans in the United States.

Common Black Last Names

Here are some common black last names:

  • Jackson
  • Davis
  • Brown
  • Wilson
  • Harris
  • Lewis
  • Clark
  • Walker
  • Hall
  • Thomas
  • Young
  • Allen
  • King
  • Wright
  • Scott
  • Baker
  • Adams
  • Nelson
  • Carter
  • Mitchell
  • Perez
  • Roberts
  • Turner
  • Phillips
  • Campbell
  • Parker
  • Evans
  • Edwards
  • Green
  • Hall
  • Baker
  • Bell
  • Coleman
  • Crawford
  • James
  • Reyes

Most Common Black Last Names

Black last names in the United States are diverse and have roots in various cultures and regions. Here are some of the most common Black last names in the United States:

  • Smith
  • Johnson
  • Williams
  • Brown
  • Washington
  • Jones
  • Davis
  • Miller
  • Wilson
  • Anderson
  • Jackson
  • Thomas
  • Harris
  • Martin
  • Thompson
  • Moore
  • White
  • Green
  • Hall
  • Baker
  • King

It is important to note that last names can be influenced by factors such as geography, cultural heritage, and historical events, among other factors.

Therefore, the list may not be comprehensive and may vary depending on the source and the methodology used.

Top 10 Family Last Names in Black America

Black Last Names Origin

Many black last names have their origins in slavery, when African slaves were given the last names of their slave owners or were given names based on their place of origin, physical characteristics, or personal attributes. Here are some common black last names and their origins:

  • Jackson: English origin, derived from the personal name “Jack” meaning “God is gracious.”
  • Davis: Welsh origin, derived from the personal name “David” meaning “beloved.”
  • Brown: English origin, derived from the Old English word “brun” meaning “brown.”
  • Wilson: English origin, derived from the personal name “Will” meaning “desiring.”
  • Harris: Scottish origin, derived from the personal name “Harry” meaning “home ruler.”
  • Lewis: English and Welsh origin, derived from the personal name “Lodovicus.”
  • Clark: English origin, derived from the occupational name for a clerk.
  • Walker: English origin, derived from the occupational name for a person who walked for a living.
  • Hall: English origin, derived from the Old English word “heall” meaning “hall.”
  • Thomas: Aramaic origin, derived from the personal name “Tomas” meaning “twin.”

In addition, many African-American last names were changed or altered during slavery and the years of segregation, making it difficult to trace their exact origins.

Uncommon Black Last Names

Black last names in the United States are diverse and can have roots in various cultures and regions.

While some last names are more common than others, there are many uncommon black last names that are also unique and have interesting histories.

Here are some examples of uncommon black last names:

  • Abdu
  • Akande
  • Amadi
  • Atieno
  • Bamgbala
  • Chi
  • Diallo
  • Fofana
  • Gueye
  • Ibeh
  • Kamau
  • Kofi
  • Nkosi
  • Obi
  • Okafor
  • Onyema
  • Sankofa
  • Sow
  • Tambo
  • Yorke

It is important to note that last names can be influenced by various factors such as geography, cultural heritage, and historical events, among other factors.

Therefore, the list of uncommon Black last names may not be comprehensive and may vary depending on the source and the methodology used.

Most Popular Black Last Names

Here are some of the most popular black last names in the United States:

  • Smith
  • Johnson
  • Williams
  • Brown
  • Jones
  • Miller
  • Davis
  • Garcia
  • Rodriguez
  • Martinez
  • Hernandez
  • Lopez
  • Gonzalez
  • Perez
  • Taylor
  • Anderson
  • Thomas
  • Jackson
  • White
  • Washington
  • Harris
  • Martin
  • Thompson
  • Young
  • Allen

It’s important to note that while these last names are commonly associated with the black community, they are not exclusively used by people of African descent.

They are also used by people of other racial and ethnic backgrounds.

How Washington Became A Black Name

Unique Black Last Names

Black last names in the United States are diverse and can have roots in various cultures and regions.

Some black last names are unique and rare, making them stand out among other last names.

Here are some examples of unique black last names:

  • Ajamu
  • Baruti
  • Chukwu
  • Dambatta
  • Gbaja-Biamila
  • Ifeanyi
  • Jelani
  • Karamoko
  • Lwanga
  • Mazibuko
  • Nwadike
  • Oluwole
  • Quashie
  • Rukundo
  • Sankara
  • Tshabalala
  • Uzoma
  • Vundla
  • Wamalwa
  • Zewde

Cool Black Last Names

Below are some unique and cool black last names:

  • Amari
  • Asante
  • Ayana
  • Baez
  • Blanco
  • Carter
  • Coles
  • Darnell
  • Davenport
  • Delaney
  • Dominguez
  • Dorsey
  • Driscoll
  • Easton
  • Ellison
  • Ford
  • Gamble
  • Garrett
  • Gideon
  • Harper
  • Harrison
  • Hayes
  • Hunter
  • Irvine
  • Jarvis
  • Jefferson
  • Jones
  • Keating
  • Kendrick
  • Lamar
  • Landon
  • Lawrence
  • Lee
  • Lewis
  • Lloyd
  • Madison
  • Marable
  • Marquez
  • Mcbride
  • Mcknight
  • Miles
  • Moody
  • Nelson
  • Norman
  • Ortiz
  • Palmer
  • Parks
  • Powell
  • Prince
  • Randolph
  • Reed
  • Riley
  • Robinson
  • Rogers
  • Ross
  • Scott
  • Sharp
  • Sherman
  • Simmons
  • Snow
  • Spencer
  • Sterling
  • Stewart
  • Tate
  • Turner
  • Vance
  • Walker
  • Washington
  • Watkins
  • West
  • White
  • Wood
  • Woodard
  • Wright
  • Young
  • Zuniga.

These names are unique and stylish, and can be great choices for parents looking to give their child a distinctive last name that reflects their heritage and identity.

Meaningful Black Last Names

Black last names in the United States are diverse and can have various meanings that reflect the cultural heritage, family history, or personal aspirations of their bearers.

Here are some examples of meaningful Black last names:

  • Adegoke: Meaning “the crown has been elevated” in Yoruba, this last name symbolizes the bearer’s status and honor.
  • Bey: Meaning “honor” in Arabic, this last name reflects the bearer’s values and personal aspirations.
  • Diop: Meaning “lion” in Wolof, this last name reflects the bearer’s strength and courage.
  • Eze: Meaning “king” in Igbo, this last name reflects the bearer’s status and leadership qualities.
  • Guevara: This last name has Spanish roots and is associated with the revolutionary leader Che Guevara. It may reflect the bearer’s political beliefs or aspirations.
  • Lumumba: This last name is associated with the Congolese independence leader Patrice Lumumba and may reflect the bearer’s political beliefs or aspirations.
  • Mandela: This last name is associated with the South African anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela and may reflect the bearer’s values and personal aspirations.
  • Nkrumah: This last name is associated with the Ghanaian independence leader Kwame Nkrumah and may reflect the bearer’s political beliefs or aspirations.
  • Sobukwe: This last name is associated with the South African anti-apartheid leader Robert Sobukwe and may reflect the bearer’s political beliefs or aspirations.
  • Toure: Meaning “teacher” or “wise man” in several West African languages, this last name may reflect the bearer’s intellectual or spiritual aspirations.

It is important to note that last names can have different meanings depending on the cultural context and the history of their bearers.

Therefore, the list of meaningful Black last names may not be comprehensive and may vary depending on the source and the methodology used.

African Surnames

Here are some common African last names:

  • Ababio
  • Adebayo
  • Adejumobi
  • Ademola
  • Adetunji
  • Adeyemo
  • Adika
  • Afolabi
  • Agbaje
  • Agyemang
  • Ajanaku
  • Akande
  • Akintoye
  • Akwetey
  • Alhassan
  • Amadi
  • Anyanwu
  • Asante
  • Atanga
  • Atta
  • Awolowo
  • Ayinde
  • Badu
  • Bediako
  • Dlamini
  • Domingo
  • Elendu
  • Essien
  • Fabunmi
  • Faro
  • Fofana
  • Gbadegesin
  • Gbadebo
  • Gbaja
  • Ibok
  • Idris
  • Igbokwe
  • Ijeh
  • Ikpeze
  • Imoh
  • Jegede
  • Kande
  • Kariuki
  • Kesse
  • Kyere
  • Leke
  • Magaña
  • Mahama
  • Mbeki
  • Mokoena
  • Molapo
  • Monene
  • Ndaba
  • Ndlovu
  • Ndiaye
  • Nduka
  • Nkweti
  • Nkrumah
  • Nyaanga
  • Nyong’o
  • Oduro
  • Ofosu
  • Ojo
  • Okonkwo
  • Okorafor
  • Okoye
  • Olujimi
  • Omotayo
  • Onyango
  • Opara
  • Opong
  • Orji
  • Osunade
  • Owusu
  • Quansah
  • Quaye
  • Sall
  • Sanneh
  • Senegal
  • Serwah
  • Sey
  • Sidibe
  • Sissoko
  • Sowe
  • Sylla
  • Takyi
  • Takor
  • Tamakloe
  • Tamale
  • Tambala
  • Tambo
  • Tembo
  • Tetteh
  • Touray
  • Traoré
  • Ukpong
  • Uwakwe
  • Wambui
  • Wokoma
  • Yeboah
  • Zuma

These names reflect the diverse cultures and languages of Africa, and are an important part of African heritage and identity.

Black Last Names That Start With… (A-Z)

Some examples of Black last names that start with each letter of the alphabet:

A

  • Adkins
  • Alexander
  • Allen
  • Anderson
  • Anthony

B

  • Bailey
  • Baker
  • Banks
  • Barnes
  • Bell
  • Bennett
  • Berry
  • Black
  • Blackwell
  • Blake
  • Boone
  • Bradley
  • Branch
  • Brooks
  • Brown
  • Bryant
  • Burgess
  • Burns
  • Butler

C

  • Campbell
  • Cannon
  • Carr
  • Carter
  • Casey
  • Chambers
  • Chandler
  • Charles
  • Clark
  • Clayton
  • Coleman
  • Collins
  • Cook
  • Cooper
  • Cox
  • Crawford
  • Cross
  • Cunningham

D

  • Daniels
  • Davidson
  • Davis
  • Dawson
  • Day
  • Dean
  • Dennis
  • Diaz
  • Dixon
  • Douglas
  • Doyle
  • Drake
  • Duncan
  • Dunn

E

  • Eaton
  • Edwards
  • Elliott
  • Ellis
  • Emerson
  • Evans

F

  • Farmer
  • Ferguson
  • Fields
  • Fisher
  • Fitzgerald
  • Fleming
  • Flores
  • Ford
  • Foster
  • Francis
  • Franklin
  • Freeman
  • French

G

  • Gaines
  • Garcia
  • Gardner
  • Garrett
  • Gibson
  • Gilbert
  • Gill
  • Gonzalez
  • Goodwin
  • Gordon
  • Graham
  • Grant
  • Gray
  • Green
  • Greene
  • Griffin

H

  • Hall
  • Hamilton
  • Hampton
  • Hancock
  • Hardy
  • Harper
  • Harris
  • Harrison
  • Hart
  • Harvey
  • Hawkins
  • Hayes
  • Henderson
  • Henry
  • Hernandez
  • Hicks
  • Hill
  • Hines
  • Hobbs
  • Hodges
  • Hoffman
  • Holland
  • Holmes
  • Holt
  • Hopkins
  • Horton
  • Howard
  • Howe
  • Hudson
  • Hughes
  • Hunt
  • Hunter

I

  • Ingram
  • Irwin

J

  • Jackson
  • Jacobs
  • James
  • Jefferson
  • Jenkins
  • Jennings
  • Johnson
  • Johnston
  • Jones
  • Jordan
  • Joseph

K

  • Keith
  • Kelly
  • Kemp
  • Kennedy
  • Kim
  • King
  • Kirby
  • Knight

L

  • Lambert
  • Lane
  • Lang
  • Lawson
  • Lee
  • Leonard
  • Lewis
  • Little
  • Lloyd
  • Logan
  • Long
  • Lopez
  • Love
  • Lowe
  • Lucas
  • Lyons

M

  • Mack
  • Malone
  • Marshall
  • Martin
  • Mason
  • Matthews
  • May
  • Mcbride
  • Mccarthy
  • Mcclain
  • Mcclendon
  • Mccoy
  • Mcdonald
  • Mcgee
  • Mcintosh
  • Mckinney
  • Mcknight
  • Mclean
  • Mcmillan
  • Mcneil
  • Meadows
  • Medina
  • Melton
  • Mendez
  • Mercer
  • Merrill
  • Meyer
  • Miles
  • Miller
  • Mills
  • Mitchell
  • Montgomery
  • Moore
  • Morales
  • Moreno
  • Morgan
  • Morris
  • Morrison
  • Mosley
  • Murphy
  • Murray
  • Myers

N

  • Nash
  • Neal
  • Nelson
  • Newman
  • Newton
  • Nguyen
  • Nichols
  • Nicholson
  • Nixon
  • Nolan
  • Norman
  • Norris
  • Norton

O

  • Obrien
  • Odom
  • Oliver
  • Oneal
  • Oneil
  • Ortiz
  • Osborne
  • Owens

P

  • Parks
  • Powell
  • Price
  • Parker
  • Phillips

Q

  • Quinn
  • Quick
  • Quinn

R

  • Reynolds
  • Robertson
  • Rogers
  • Richardson
  • Rose

S

  • Scott
  • Smith
  • Spencer
  • Stewart
  • Stevens

T

  • Taylor
  • Turner
  • Thomas
  • Thompson
  • Tate

U

  • Underwood

V

  • Vance
  • Walker
  • Washington
  • Watson
  • Wells

W

  • West
  • White
  • Williams
  • Wilson
  • Wood

X

  • Xavier

Y

  • Young
  • Yates

Z

  • Zarek
  • Zendejas
  • Zepeda
  • Zhang
  • Zuma

French Black Last Names

Below are some common French last names associated with the black community:

  • Auguste
  • Barbier
  • Boudreaux
  • Broussard
  • Charlemont
  • Chartier
  • Dauphin
  • Dupont
  • Dupre
  • Dusseau
  • Dubois
  • Fabre
  • Girard
  • Guillory
  • Jacques
  • Jean-Baptiste
  • Joseph
  • LaCour
  • LeBlanc
  • Leveque
  • Loranger
  • Louis
  • Marchand
  • Moreau
  • Nouvel
  • Orleans
  • Picard
  • Pierre
  • Pontchartrain
  • Rabelais
  • Rousseau
  • Savoie
  • Toussaint
  • Vaugirard.

These names reflect the rich history and cultural heritage of the black community in France and its overseas territories, particularly the Caribbean and West Africa.

Many of these names have roots in French and African cultures and have been passed down through generations.

British Black Last Names

Here are some common British last names associated with the black community:

  • Adewunmi
  • Agboola
  • Akinsanya
  • Alabi
  • Bailey
  • Baptiste
  • Beckford
  • Bennett
  • Blackman
  • Brown
  • Butler
  • Campbell
  • Chambers
  • Clarke
  • Collins
  • Connor
  • Cox
  • Crawford
  • Cummings
  • Daniels
  • Davis
  • Deans
  • Dixon
  • Doyley
  • Dyer
  • Edwards
  • Ellis
  • Fenton
  • Forbes
  • Francis
  • Fraser
  • Gayle
  • Gordon
  • Graham
  • Grant
  • Green
  • Hall
  • Hamilton
  • Harris
  • Harrison
  • Henry
  • Hines
  • Jackson
  • James
  • Johnson
  • Jones
  • Joseph
  • King
  • Knight
  • Lawrence
  • Lee
  • Lewis
  • Linton
  • Martin
  • Mason
  • McKenzie
  • Miller
  • Morris
  • Nelson
  • Palmer
  • Phillips
  • Reid
  • Richards
  • Robinson
  • Rogers
  • Russell
  • Scott
  • Sharpe
  • Simpson
  • Smith
  • Stewart
  • Taylor
  • Thomas
  • Thompson
  • Walker
  • White
  • Williams
  • Wilson.

These names reflect the diversity and history of the black community in the United Kingdom, many of which have been passed down through generations and have origins in various parts of the world.

Black Dutch Last Names

Some black Dutch last names:

  • van den Berg
  • van der Meer
  • van der Linden
  • van der Veen
  • van der Westhuizen
  • van der Merwe
  • van der Heijden
  • van den Bosch
  • van der Meulen
  • van der Kooi

Blackest Last Names

Some of the surnames most commonly associated with African Americans:

  • Abdul-Baki
  • Abney
  • Ahmed
  • Anderson
  • Akande
  • Bailey
  • Campbell
  • Cunningham
  • Douglas
  • Gossett
  • Hasaan
  • Holder
  • Imani
  • Jamison
  • Jones
  • Johnson
  • Kemp
  • King
  • Lee
  • Muhammad
  • Owens
  • Phillips
  • Powell
  • Robinson
  • Scott
  • Smith
  • Walker
  • Washington
  • Williams
  • Wilson

But last names can have various origins, and they are not necessarily indicative of a person’s race or ethnicity.

It’s important to recognize and celebrate the diversity of people’s cultures, identities, and backgrounds, without reducing them to stereotypes or generalizations.

Black Creole Last Names

Black Creole last names are common among the African-American population in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast.

Many of these names have French, Spanish, and West African roots, reflecting the region’s complex cultural history.

Here are some common Black Creole last names:

  • Antoine
  • Arceneaux
  • Armand
  • Augustin
  • Babineaux
  • Baptiste
  • Barthelemy
  • Baudoin
  • Benoit
  • Bernard
  • Broussard
  • Castille
  • Celestine
  • Charles
  • Chevalier
  • Cormier
  • Dalcour
  • Darbonne
  • Dufrene
  • Durand
  • Etienne
  • Fontenot
  • Francois
  • Gabriel
  • Gaudet
  • Gauthier
  • George
  • Guillory
  • Henry
  • Jacobs
  • Jolivette
  • Joseph
  • Julien
  • Landry
  • LeBlanc
  • Ledet
  • Leger
  • Lemelle
  • Martin
  • Mayeux
  • Melancon
  • Menard
  • Metoyer
  • Narcisse
  • Noel
  • Oubre
  • Pitre
  • Poullard
  • Prosper
  • Rachal
  • Roy
  • Savoie
  • Simon
  • Thierry
  • Toussaint
  • Vallot
  • Vidal

These names reflect the unique history and cultural heritage of the Black Creole community in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast.

Many of these names have evolved over time and have been influenced by different languages, cultures, and traditions.

Black Slave Last Names

It’s important to note that many African American last names can be traced back to slavery, and it’s often difficult to know the origins of these names, as many enslaved individuals were not given the opportunity to choose their own names, and were often given last names by their slave owners.

However, here are some commonly used African American last names that have been traced back to slavery:

  • Jackson
  • Johnson
  • Brown
  • Lewis
  • Davis
  • Robinson
  • Smith
  • Washington
  • Clark
  • Anderson

It’s also important to recognize the complexities and nuances of African American genealogy and the lasting impact of slavery on African American communities.

Haitian Last Names

Haitian last names often reflect the country’s history, culture, and language.

Here are some common Haitian last names:

  • Alcide
  • Alexis
  • Antoine
  • Augustin
  • Belizaire
  • Bernard
  • Bonhomme
  • Cajuste
  • Charles
  • Chery
  • Clerveau
  • Daniel
  • Dorval
  • Dupont
  • Etienne
  • Francois
  • Gabriel
  • Gedeon
  • Germain
  • Jean-Baptiste
  • Joseph
  • Julien
  • Lafortune
  • Lamour
  • Laurent
  • Lebrun
  • Legrand
  • Louis
  • Mathieu
  • Michaud
  • Milord
  • Moreau
  • Noel
  • Pierre
  • Poteau
  • Raphael
  • Raymond
  • Rene
  • Saint-Armand
  • Saint-Fleur
  • Saint-Louis
  • Saintil
  • Saintus
  • Samedi
  • Savain
  • Simon
  • Simeon
  • St. Jean
  • Theodore
  • Toussaint.

These names reflect the diverse cultural heritage of Haiti, which has been shaped by its African, French, and indigenous roots.

Many Haitian last names have religious and cultural significance, and they often reflect the history and struggles of the Haitian people.

Cuban Last Names

Below is a list of various Cuban last names:

  • García
  • González
  • Rodríguez
  • Pérez
  • Hernández
  • Fernández
  • López
  • Torres
  • Gómez
  • Castillo
  • Ramírez
  • Acosta
  • Morales
  • Suárez
  • Núñez
  • Ortega
  • Valdés
  • Sánchez
  • Herrera
  • Castro
  • Alvarez
  • Rivas
  • Reyes
  • Mesa
  • Díaz
  • Ramos
  • Cruz
  • Fuentes
  • Vázquez
  • Mendoza

Dominican Last Names

A list of various Dominican last names:

  • Rodriguez
  • Garcia
  • Martinez
  • Hernandez
  • Lopez
  • Gonzalez
  • Perez
  • Sánchez
  • Torres
  • Díaz
  • Santos
  • Fernández
  • Pérez
  • Ortiz
  • Rivera
  • Ramirez
  • Colón
  • Castillo
  • Peralta
  • Velázquez
  • Cruz
  • Jiménez
  • Martínez
  • Ramírez
  • Vásquez
  • Acevedo
  • Ortiz
  • Rojas
  • Mejía
  • Marquez

FAQs – Black Last Names

What is a common black last name?

Common black last names include Williams, Johnson, Brown, Jones, Taylor, Wilson, Moore, Davis, Smith, and Anderson.

What is the most African last name?

The most common African last names include Abimbola, Asare, Diallo, Kamara, and Ndiaye.

What are uncommon Jamaican last names?

Some uncommon African last names include Atem, Bangura, Dilolo, Ejikeme, and Fadola.

How did slaves get last names?

Slaves in the United States were often given last names by their owners.

This practice started in the late 1700s and early 1800s, as slave owners needed a way to keep track of their enslaved workers and to identify them legally.

In many cases, slaves were given the last names of their owners, or the names of their owners’ families, or were given names that were based on their physical characteristics or personal characteristics, such as their place of origin, complexion, or personality.

In some cases, slaves took on the last names of their masters when they were freed, while in other cases, they chose new names to reflect their newfound freedom.

It’s important to note that the process of giving slaves last names was not uniform and varied greatly by state, owner, and time period.

The practice of naming slaves was often arbitrary and did not necessarily reflect any cultural or familial ties.

Why do so many African Americans have last names from old American presidents?

After the Civil War, some African Americans also adopted the last names of famous figures, including presidents, as a way of asserting their own place in American society and reclaiming a sense of pride and dignity.

For example, some freedmen and women chose to take the last name “Lincoln” after President Abraham Lincoln, who was seen as a champion of emancipation and equality.

Conclusion – Black Last Names

The history of black last names is a fascinating and complex one, filled with stories that span generations and countries.

As many families of African-American origin have experienced, the process of taking on a new surname can be tricky when there are limited records available.

In some cases, people may have to make educated guesses or look to family members for guidance in order to piece together the history of their surnames.

Characteristics of African-American surnames often reveal clues about the family’s background and experiences.

Some are derived from first names or places, others from nicknames or descriptions, indicating the various paths that were taken in the development of these surnames over time.

Many black Americans have also utilized their tribal origins in their selection of names, carrying on cultural traditions as a way to honor their ancestors.

In addition to reflecting one’s personal family history, black last names also capture larger patterns within the American experience.

Between Reconstruction and World War II, particularly in southern states like Mississippi where many African Americans relocated from rural areas to work in industrial jobs, many adopted what were known as “slave” surnames given by former slaveholders due to laws preventing them from formally changing their surnames.

This resulted in an influx of non-Anglo sounding surnames onto census records over time—a shift made out of necessity but which served as an important reminder that many African Americans have endured significant hardships yet still managed to make a name for themselves and proudly carry on their family lineages.

Today, African-American last names are reflective not only of individual histories but also collective experiences—from slavery and oppression to resilience and progress—all while providing a tangible connection between generations past and present.

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