The Most Common African American Last Names

in Culture

What Are the Most Common & Popular Black Last Names (Surnames)?

Your name is your identity. It is not only what you’re known by, but also who you are and belong to. Over the ages as the world evolved and revolutionized, people, too, evolved and adapted unique systems or ways of naming. But how did the first wave of revolution happen? Well, it is quite simple. People acquired knowledge of various aspects of life and activities that would change how they related by a long shot. They started various activities like trading and mining, and this saw different races spread throughout the world. Other social interactions have seen the furtherance of this spread by races and people from different backgrounds and through to all over the world.

African Americans are among what in the United States’ the early 80s and 90s, was considered a “black” race. It is but the typical nature of human beings to establish a naming system that can be attributed and related to the “people of their kind.” You’d, therefore, find that most African Americans have some common names that across borders, are used by most of them. It is not, however, uncommon to find people of a certain race with common last names since it’s basically regarded as trying to identify with those of your kin.

Most Common African American Surnames By Count

The United States Bureau of Census conducted a census in 2000, upon which this article will be mostly reliant for statistical data. The following are among the most common last names of African Americans:


This is perhaps the most common last name identified with blacks. From the census data, a whopping 716,704 individuals self-identified as “blacks.” This would see the name rank first among blacks, but third, however, in the US considering its total occurrence in the country was a record of 1,534,042.


Johnson ranks as the second most common last name among blacks in the, with a data record of 627,720 as the number of those who self-identified as blacks. It ranks second in the US, with a total occurrence in the country holding a record of 1,857,160.


You wouldn’t be surprised that this surname ranks third among blacks because of the numbers dragging on to slightly above half a million with a precise count of 527,993. However, it breaks records, rising up the ranks after a total tally, shooting to the first position in the total occurrence in the United States with a 2,376,206-total count.


Its popularity falls on as the numbers drop to 514,167, ranking it fourth among blacks. This name is not as common in the US as the first three, considering it ranks fifth in the country’s total occurrence count of 1,362,755.


While ranking fifth among blacks and fourth in the US, this surname holds a data record count of 476,702 with the former rank and 1,380,145 with the latter. It may not be as common as the ones preceding it, but it still has a lot of popularity among blacks.


You have perhaps heard one or two people with this surname. It’s not so popular, but well, it appears among the top 10 commonly used last names in the US, at number 7 with a total count of 1,072,335 occurrences. It’s equally as popularly identified with the blacks, ranking at number 7 with a count of 329,957 occurrences of self-identified blacks.


This surname would not be in this list were it not for its popularity in the US. In a total occurrence count, it ranks at number 6 with a count of 1,127,803. However, the surname ranks at ten among blacks. The number of blacks who self-identified with the name is 117,404.

Other surnames that make the top ranks among the blacks are Jackson at sixth position with a count of 353,179 and Thomas at eighth position with a count of 271,273. Harris comes up ninth with a count of 247,092 and Robinson makes tenth with a count of 221,835 self-identified blacks.

Washington, Jackson, Jenkins, And Jefferson; Which Surname Do “Blacks” Relate Most To?

These four surnames may not be in the top ten ranks of common last names used by blacks according to the 2000 census, but they most definitely are more common than any other “black” surnames. So how do you determine which among the four would be related more to the blacks? Let’s have a look at each one of them, one after the other.


The name Washington comes up as the most widely used and common of the four among blacks. However, being the capital just rules it out from being related more to the blacks, because the capital is basically the center of all race, color, and religion. So, one win and one loss.


The most famous family of the black race go by the name “Jackson.” It is perhaps why most blacks would associate to this name much more easily than any of the other three. But does it have enough numbers?


In numbers, this surname drags slowly from behind. It has a staggering percentage of usage, and it, therefore, goes without saying that it is the least commonly used surname by the blacks.


Jefferson is like a white knight. It’s popular for its effectiveness but prefers to remain dormant. Metaphors aside, this name has a good ranking compared to the rest. However, it doesn’t rank highest, but just good. It is therefore common, but not common enough.


It may not be as easy to determine which of the four is the one name that blacks relate most to, because while one has numbers, it fails on something else. However, it can be agreed that a white knight often wins a chess game in a flash, and therefore Jefferson doesn’t seem too bad for the day. Nonetheless, it should be noted that Washington is quite popular and the mere mention of it as a surname rings it on as a black name. Indeed, your name is your identity. This is so true, especially for last/surnames.

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