When I was growing up, I wondered by my grandmother had named my mother Bessie. There was no other woman I knew named, Bessie. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I realized that name was short for Elizabeth. The only other Elizabeth I knew not in a Sweet Valley High book, was Queen Elizabeth II. My mother said that was whom she was named after. She believes it, so why not let her have it?
However, with the women my mother’s age the names I heard often where Esther, Estella, Dorothy, Elizabeth and Charlotte.
My adopted mother’s name is Charlotte.
I always thought the name sounded–hard. I think it was mean sounding because of the hard Ch that started that name. But there are few women I knew with that name who were mean.
It was this year that I found out why that name had the toughness that it did. It’s regal. Charlotte, Charlottesville,— the very name Charlotte–is after the British monarch Queen Sophia Charlotte, wife of King George III. And she was what was called a Moor, we would just call her black.
With all I knew, I considered myself to be well read until now. I literally found this out as concrete fact over the weekend! I had heard the historic rumors of her existence, but didn’t want to get my hopes up with research. But indeed this was fact! She was beautiful, multilingual, an abolitionist–and she discovered Morzart! Moreover, she was one of his early sponsors!
As I sat listening to News One, I absorbed this information in smooth waves. I searched Google for images of her. I needed to know what likeness there was of her. In seeing her, being able to associate name and face, I thought I would be able to further validate my own ambition. I wanted proof to be an ambitious, beautiful black woman was hereditary, not fluke. I needed the lingering parts of me settled about that. There was depiction of her I found where she looks like me or my mother when she was younger.
Names indeed have influence, prestige and lineage. Names let you hold you head up a little taller, especially if you know there’s a history behind them! Make no mistake, because you have the name you do, you already get to establish history and prowess with it. Need I remind you of *Quvenzhane Wallis?
Nikki Giovanni said,”If the black woman wasn’t made, she would have to be invented.” So accurate. It indeed is marvelous to be young, gifted and black.
*She the actress in the movie Beasts Of The Southern Wild, and most recently, Annie. She is an author, and actress whom was the youngest nominated for an Academy Award. There is a quote that is ascribed to the pronunciation of her name that the author, says requires one have ‘full use of the tongue.’ That article was in response to a Annie press interview Ms. Wallis did where the interviewer was having an issue saying her name, and wanted to shorten it. Quvenzhane said, “No, you can call me Quvenzhane.”