5 Pro Tips in Choosing African American Names for All Ages

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African Americans are often known as Black Americans or Afro-Americans. They were originally a minority group that thrived in the American eastern states. They descended from the early colonized African people that were imported to the United States to work as slaves.

During the colonial era, a vast number of central and western Africans are captured by slave traders and sold to European oligarchs. These slave trading eventually reached the shores of America, and a huge number of Africans were shipped to them as traded goods. With this relentless slave trading, numerous Africans were forced to settle and eventually became a minority group in most of the eastern United States. They were later called African Americans, having a direct lineage from the early enslaved African people while born in American lands.

Article Summary: 

  1. History of African American naming conventions
  2. The cultural significance of African American names
  3. The role of gender in African American naming traditions
  4. The influence of popular culture on African American names
  5. African American baby naming trends
  6. The impact of slavery on African American names and naming traditions
  7. The importance of family and community in African American naming practices
  8. The use of nicknames in African American culture
  9. The evolution of African American names over time
  10. The intersection of African American names with other cultural naming practices.

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Table of Contents

Influences in African American Names

Before we dwell on some of the popular African American names, let’s examine first the influences that surround their names. Modern African American names are a mix of different influences coming from American, French, Biblical, Muslim, and African itself. This is due to the influence caused by the prolonged colonization of powerful countries during the colonization era. 

For example, French names like Antoine and Andre are common African American names for boys, while Monique and Chantal are for girls. French names came into the list of African American names because some of the eastern states of America are former colonies of France. Colonies like Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama also participate in the open trade of African slaves. Spanish and French settlers of these colonies sometimes intermarried freed African slaves, resulting in families and children carrying French or African names with them.

This is also the same with American names being incorporated into African American names. White Americans during this time are either Catholics or protestants. Those who married or had children with an African often carry out names coming from the Bible. Names like John and Emmanuel are common among African American people.

Lastly, western African colonies from Europe have influences of both native African names and Muslim names. The majority of the African continent was Muslim even before the colonization of the western countries. While most of them were forced to convert to Catholicism or denounce the teachings of Islam, some retained their old traditional naming conventions. African American girl names such as Ashanti and Aaliyah, and boy names like Muhammad and Kareem, are both influenced by Muslim and Arabic culture.

4 Pro Tips in Choosing African American Names

Now that you have an idea about African American names, let’s explore some of our 5 pro tips in picking the best African American names.

Pro Top 1: Stay Classic

Using the descriptions and brief history you learned so far, try to use names that are classic and original for an African American. By classic, we meant staying on usual and popular African American names. These names have influences coming from French, Biblical, American, African, and Muslim Arabic. Look at some of our examples below.

African - American Names Generator

Classic African American Girl Names

Classic African American Boy Names

Common African American Last Names

  • Beyonce
  • Shandra
  • Tamyra
  • Tanya
  • Alexa
  • Brianna
  • Chantal
  • Dakota
  • Imani
  • Kalisha
  • Elijah
  • Jamal
  • Jayden
  • Jordan
  • Khalil
  • Malik
  • Zion
  • Caleb
  • Daran
  • Craig
  • Jones
  • Smith
  • Williams
  • David
  • Locke
  • Jackson
  • Johnson
  • Stones
  • Carter
  • Lee


Pro Tip 2: Consider Traditional Names

Traditional African American names draw inspiration more from their African side than their western influences. This means we take into consideration original native names from Africa itself. Why not? Traditional African names are beautiful, and their tone and pronunciations are surprisingly good to the ears. Take a look at some of our suggested Traditional African names you can consider.


Traditional African American Names for Girls

Traditional African American Names for Boys

  • Amara (kind and gentle)
  • Nala (meaning, we or us)
  • Zendaya (gratitude or thankfulness)
  • Abeba (flower)
  • Aamina (security or being safe)
  • Chipo (present or gift)
  • Eniola (wealthy)
  • Hafsat (a gathering, or event)
  • Hiwot (life)
  • Masozi (tears)
  • Diallo (brave or bold)
  • Faraji (solace)
  • Imamu (spiritual leader)
  • Jabari (brave personality)
  • Kofi (a child born on a Friday)
  • Kwame (a child born on a Saturday)
  • Omar (a chieftain)
  • Yared (an heir)
  • Zaire (a river)
  • Idir (living or alive)


Pro Tip 3: Think of a Strong Name with Good Nickname

Selecting a powerful African American name entails opting for a remarkable and indelible name. Though there are plenty of names that are simple to recall, a sturdy name will firmly establish the individual, particularly when accompanied by an exceptional nickname. It is advisable to seek out names that possess an appealing sound and are easy to remember, while also ensuring that they have a superb nickname. Here are a few illustrations:

    1. Jaheem – This name has an African origin which means dignified. This name can easily be remembered and is a perfect African American name for boys. A good nickname for this is Jam, Jammy, and Ja.
    2. Lafyette – This name means “last name” in French. This name has a unique sound and is great for a black baby girl. A few great sample nicknames for this name are yet, yeti, and ayet.
    3. Sheniqua –This name is a variation of the original native American name, Shanika which means God is gracious. Despite not having a pure African origin, it fits as an African American name for young ladies. Examples of nicknames for this are nika, nikki, shen, and eny.
  •  Samuel – The name Samuel has its origin in the ancient Hebrew language. It is often interpreted as “God has heard” in the English language. Samuel can easily be remembered as it is a common name for African American men. Some celebrities have this name such as Samuel L. Jackson. A good nickname for Samuel is Sammy and Sam.

Pro Tip 4: Don’t Stress Yourself Out!

We understand that selecting the perfect name for your babies is quite a complicated and long process. But fret not, selecting a perfect name shouldn’t be as hard as it should be. When selecting your desired African American name, keep in mind that there might be helpful tools, guides, and articles (such as this) that can help you formulate or decide on a name. 

Speaking of tools, automated and smart Name Generators are highly recommended before you try creating your version of the African American name. An AI-powered African American Name Generator provides multiple name suggestions that users can use at their disposal. The names generated are on-point, unique, and free. Additionally, users may or may not follow the suggested names but use them as a guide or inspiration in creating new names. Lastly, name generators save you time from thinking or formulating names.