Slavery is abolished but Blacks continue to keep the last names of slave owners. We recently came across a poll where numerous African Americans explain why they keep their slave/white names. Below we have compiled the most intriguing reasons why they did not change their surnames.
1. I’m not ashamed of being a descendant of the enslaved. My ancestors built America, endured attempted genocide, and reached great heights in a relatively short time. What they’ve given me, and this country, is damn near a miracle. The real question is why other races and ethnicities kept their slave-owning names and slave-trading/selling names. That’s something to be ashamed of.
2. Because it is evidence of the crimes committed against our ancestors an a memorial so that we will never forget until they receive real and full justice for the unimaginable evils inflicted upon them. In short, it’s the next best thing to a paper trail we have leading right back to the criminal flesh peddlers, rapist, and terrorist they were once compelled the call “Master.” Until then, we wear it begrudgingly like a scare to remind us of what they did and never again.
3. My last name is an honorable name. My Dad was a good man and I’m proud of that name. I’m not about to grab some name out of thin air and pretend it means something to me. I know who I am. As far as first names- My mother was named after a Greek Island that my grandfather visited. It was the most beautiful place and he named his beautiful girl. My name is a version of that.
4. I will tell you the story of my ancestors through oral tradition. They were slaves in Arkansas. My ancestor was sent to market with a head of cattle. He has done this several times so the master was comfortable letting him take his family. My ancestor walked smoothly to East Texas and changed our name. So our surname was not our slave name.
My ancestors stayed doing gully shit, like bootlegging during prohibition. We still make persimmon liquor to this day. They also were part of a black self sustaining community called Macedonia. We kept our last name because we some thugs and outlaws.
5. This isn’t always the case for Black Americans. Newly freed slaves actually chose their last names. They would often pick the names of presidents- Washington, Jefferson, Jackson etc.,
What name would you suggest people change to? I’m not ashamed of my history and I think our names are more important and hold more significance than the names of white people. Our names are a document of our struggle for freedom and dignity.
6. Do you know your tribe or where you even came from? If we change our names now, what would be we changing said names to? Did the slaves even let their kids know what their original names were? Especially if they were beaten just for saying the name?
7. I know for my family it just wasn’t something we thought about. All sides of my family kept their “slave” names, including the British side of my family (which is Black for the most part). I don’t really see anything wrong with it, but at the same time there was a point I was interested in changing my last name as well.
8. It’s not a form of mental slavery it’s just because by the time slavery ended most African Americans only spoke English and probably wouldn’t be able to even pronounce a surname that derives from any African nation. Also after slavery there was segregation and people were trying to do whatever they could to not stand out to much from Whites. Folks straightened their hair, praised light skin, and kept Anglican sounding names.
9. We don’t know exactly what African ethnic groups we come from, why would we just pick random African names and rename ourselves? It makes no sense.
10. My “slave” name won’t have my resume thrown into the damn garbage and not only that – I LIKE my name. All of my nieces, nephews, baby cousins have “slave” names as well. No one has time for 7-syllable names with no damn meanings or any with several apostrophes to be “different” and “unique”.
11. I like the fact that no one can assume what I am based on my name prior to seeing me in person. not to mention if I changed it, my last name would be different from everyone else’s in my family and i wouldn’t like that.
12. 8. when people see our last names they know we are American. Many black slaves did change their names but they changed it into English last names like “freeman” “freedman” or “union.” If you see a black person with that name you know that they are American, descendants of slaves who came on ships centuries ago.
13. Every family has a reason for keeping their names, most likely to find and identify each other if they happened to be spread out to different areas. People had to actually travel and investigate/ask around in order to find each other post-slavery. Some just had better things to worry about, like surviving and trying to avoid violence, hunger, disease etc.