The Perks of Freedom: Naming Our Children/African American Names.
The end of slavery brought with it the need to select names for one's children, children who could no longer be taken and sold away at a moment's notice. Reflecting this change, freed slaves often gave their children names that indicated ownership such as Iona (I own her), Anita (I need her), Eudora (You adore her), Sheila (She's loved), Herman (Her man), Husband, and Brother. Others chose names that would require (white) people to address their children with respect such as King, Queen, Prince, Isabel (Is a belle), Idabel (I'm the belle), Missy (typically reserved for the mistress or eldest daughter of a white home), Mister, and Madea (My Dear or Mother Dear - usually a nickname or term of endearment). Some black schools addressed each boy as Master _____ to instill a sense of self worth and the worth of others, some still do. Many of these names and words predate this period and have other etymologies but were adopted and repurposed by freed people this way. In some families and communities, they have been passed down for generations. In the 1950s through 1970s, a myth prevailed that African identities had been stripped away and replaced with nothing that was uniquely ours. There was a movement to create African American identity marked, in part, by the borrowing of names from French, Arabic, Swahili, and thin air. Many did this because they did not know that there were already names unique to African America. They did not see that we did have a heritage and culture, much of which is strong, proud, brave and valuable. I had an Aunt by marriage named Queen, my brother's childhood friend is named King, I met a guy up from Mississippi named Husband one day in Berkeley, and everybody knows Prince. #blackhistory#history