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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?

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2. Audra

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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.

6. Billie

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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.


8. Cicely

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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.

9. Davis

As in: Angela Davis, political activist, and scholar who rose to prominence in the '70s, and Miles Davis, legendary jazz musician.

10. Douglass

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As in: Frederick Douglass, famous abolitionist, orator, and writer of works such as Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.

11. Duke

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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."


13. Fannie

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As in: Fannie Lou Hamer, legendary civil rights activist who helped African-Americans register to vote.

Also consider: Lou, her second name.

15. Harriet

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As in: Harriet Tubman, famous abolitionist who helped hundreds of slaves escape to freedom on the Underground Railroad.

Also consider: Araminta, her given name.


17. Ida

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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.

19. Langston

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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.


22. Marley

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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.

23. Maya

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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.

24. Morrison

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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.

25. Nat

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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.

26. Nina

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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.

27. Ossie

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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.

29. Rosa

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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.

30. Ruby

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.

33. Thurgood

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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.

35. Walker

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As in: Alice Walker, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Color Purple.

Also consider: Alice, her first name.

36. Zadie

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As in: Zadie Smith, British novelist of works such as White Teeth and On Beauty.

Also consider: Sadie, her given name.


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