What is in a name?

“What’s In A Name?”


Over the course of this semester—whether it was in regard to themselves, their children, organizations or businesses—we saw the importance African Americans placed on names.  Often, former slaves took on new names soon after gaining their freedom. The ones they chose for themselves and their children most often were tied to people, places, and things of personal significance, all linking to identity.


In this last assignment, you will be historian and researcher….and it will be personal.  For the final exam essay you are to research and write about YOUR name.


You’ll use oral and traditional research techniques. Talk to your parents and relatives. Use print, web, any appropriate resources to offer a historically based paper.   


Below are a few points that may help guide you along. You do not have to address them in any particular order.  You may add or subtract as you feel appropriate.


How did you get your name?  What is its origin, where does it come from?   What does it mean?  Who chose it?  How did they decide on it?  Does it have any personal or cultural connection to your family?  How do you feel about your name?  Have your feelings about your name changed over the years, and if so, how?  How has it shaped and/or defined you?  Do you connect to any historical figure because of your name?  Do you wish you would have been named something else?  Share any and all other points of interest about your name.

Finally, what are your thoughts on the significance of names, especially as it pertains to African Americans? 

Requirements:  Please pay close attention.  You will be downgraded if directions are not followed


650-750 words       MLA Style     Word document

Double Space      Arial or Times Roman font-12 point    1 inch margins    



Close scrutiny will be given not only to the content of your paper, but its structure.  Typos, grammatical and punctuation errors, and incomplete sentences will cause your paper to be downgraded.  I highly encourage all to let another person review your work before submission.  Use separate paragraphs.  No papers with one long paragraph. Do not use headings/titles over individual paragraphs.  Use transitions and topic sentences to move to new points of interest or emphasis.  If your research results in using outside sources, make reference to the source within the body of your paper or cite with a footnote.  Either is acceptable.  

Attach/upload your Word document (Blackboard has problems converting other formats) to the Blackboard assignment page.  Do not write in the “Write Submission” or Comments section.

This is a first person essay.  Be creative.  Have some fun with it, but remember to approach the assignment as you would any other, and that is with an eye towards excellence.


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