Most Common African American Last Names and Their Unspoken History
Africa is one of the largest and most diverse continents in the world. It has a broad range of languages, cultures, traditions and ethnicities. So, as you can imagine, African surnames are also of broad spectrum. African American last names, however, are a little different.
The Unknown History Behind African American Last Names
The history behind African American surnames isn’t actually that well known, and it is a little upsetting. African American last names are connected to a long history of slavery. When they were enslaved, African Americans were given last names that belonged to their “owners”. It was seen as a way of marking the enslaved African Americans as the property of the white family.
So, why didn’t African Americans change their last names even after the abolition of slavery? Logically, a lot of African Americans hoped that by keeping their white owners’ last names, they could be linked and identified by long lost family that they were separated from when enslaved.
These last names still hold to this day. They have a whole lot of history behind them, and serve as a constant reminder of what their African American ancestors went through.
Listed in this article, are the most common African American surnames.
Top 10 Most Common African American Last Names:
In this shorter list, you can see the top 10 most commonly used African American last names. Take a look:
- Williams – The MOST common African American last name of all.
- Johnson – There are almost 2 million black people with this last name.
- Smith – You’ve got to have heard of Smith. Any famous TV show actors coming to mind?
- Jones – Ranks in at number 4, still a popular surname.
- Brown – How many famous black people can you name with this last name?
- Jackson – There’s no guessing which famous family first came to mind!
- Davis – Coming in 8th place, still a fairly popular last name.
- Thomas – Again, a popular last name and one you may well have heard of.
- Harris – There are almost 700,000 people with this last name. Can you name anyone with this last name?
- Robinson – Coming in last of the top 10, Robinson ties up this list.
Additional 30 Most Common African American Surnames
An additional 30 surnames for you to look through that are still quite popular amongst African-Americans.
To read more common last name articles from around the world, click here.
- Korean Last Names
- Japanese Last Names
- Russian Last Names
- Hawaiian Last Names
- Italian Last Names
- Indian Last Names
- Greek Last Names
- Mexican Last Names
- African Last Names
- British last names