Howard University College of Fine Arts to be Named After Chadwick Boseman

Chadwick Boseman at the Deauville Film Festival in 2014 (Photo by Georges Biard, CC-BY-3.0)

Howard University announced that it will name its College of Fine Arts after actor and alumnus Chadwick Boseman.An article in The New York Times quotes Dean Phylicia Rashad’s comments regarding Mr. Boseman: “Unrelenting in his pursuit of excellence, Chadwick was possessed with a passion for inquiry and a determination to tell stories — through acting, writing and directing — that revealed the beauty and complexity of our human spirit.”

Read more about the naming here.

Behind the Name: “Supermoon” is a Catchier Name for “Perigee Syzygy”

A Supermoon behind Cerro Armazones mountain in Chile (Photo by G.Hüdepohl (, CC-BY-4.0)

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal reviews the phenomenon called “perigee syzygy”, better known as the “Supermoon”. Jo Craven McGinty discusses the origins of the popular term supermoon: “Richard Nolle invented the neologism for an article published in Dell Horoscope magazine in 1979. It captured the imagination of the public and—perhaps adding insult to injury—eclipsed the technical term for the event.”

Read more about the phenomenon and when to see it at The Wall Street Journal.

University of Illinois at Chicago will Rename Law School, Dropping “John Marshall” Name

Citing the former Chief Justice’s racist views and history as a slave owner and trader, the University of Illinois at Chicago will rename its Law School, dropping the name “John Marshall”. The Chicago Tribune reports that “trustees’ vote Thursday followed a monthslong review by a university task force, which voted 6-1 to remove Marshall’s name. The law school faculty and faculty senate also voted in favor of renaming the school, which is separate from the University of Illinois College of Law in Urbana.”

Read more at the Chicago Tribune.

Hurricane Season: 21 Names for 21 Storms in 2021

The World Meteorological Organization in Geneva, Switzerland selected 21 names for the first 21 storms of 2021. Recently, USA Today reviewed these 21 names and an additional 21 supplemental names in case the initial names are exhausted. The initial 21 names are:

  • Ana
  • Bill
  • Claudette
  • Danny
  • Elsa
  • Fred
  • Grace
  • Henri
  • Ida
  • Julian
  • Kate
  • Larry
  • Mindy
  • Nicholas
  • Odette
  • Peter
  • Rose
  • Sam
  • Teresa
  • Victor
  • Wanda

Read more at USA Today.

Florida’s Duval County School Board to Rename 6 Schools Named for Confederate Leaders

Robert E. Lee High School in Jacksonville (Photo by Subwayatrain, CC-BY-3.0)

“Robert E. Lee High School” will be known as “Riverside High School”. Additionally, five other schools named for Confederate leaders will be renamed. The School Board’s decision comes after a year of community meetings, rallies, and protests. However, three other schools named for influential figures who are tied to “colonizers” will remain. Read more about the school board’s decision and the city of Jacksonville’s response here.

Study: Feminine Names Bring Greater Brand Appeal

As described in an article in The Wall Street Journal, a recent study titled “Is Nestlé a Lady? The Feminine Brand Name Advantage” in the Journal of Marketing finds “feminine-sounding brands may be more appealing, because they are often perceived as warmer and thereby associated with traits like trustworthiness, sincerity, friendliness, tolerance and good nature.” During the study, participants were 34% more likely to chose a fictitious feminine brand name than they were a fictitious masculine brand name. Read more about feminine names and branding here.

Federal Government Approves Plan to Remove the Word “Negro” from 16 Place Names in Texas

Earlier this month, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names—a federal body—approved a plan that would remove the word “Negro” from 16 different place names in the state of Texas. Thousands of cities across the United States still bear racist names, and local officials across Texas are praising the decision to remove the word from these place names. According to Axios, Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis said in a statement:

“This day has been a long time coming, but I am proud to see this change finally happen…I hope that the [U.S. Board on Geographic Names] will build on the progress made today in Texas, and work with other groups across the country to ensure that all racially offensive names are erased from the public domain.”

Read more at the New York Times.

About Names: “Brian boomed in the early ’70s”

Queen’s Brian May in 1979 (Photo by Eddie Malin, CC-BY-2.0)

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his June 20th column, he looks at the history of the name Brian.

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Brian is the Irish form of ancient Celtic Brigonos, probably meaning “high, noble.” Irish king Brian Boru’s forces defeated the Vikings of Dublin at the Battle of Clontarf in 1014. Though Brian died in battle, he became the hero of Ireland’s struggle against foreign domination.

In the 10th century, Norse kings of Dublin also ruled York in northern England. They adopted Brian from the Irish and took it to York. Celtic-speaking knights from Brittany came to southern England with Norman invaders in 1066, introducing the name there. Though Brian died out as a first name in England outside of Yorkshire, it lasted long enough to establish Bryan as a common English surname.

The English rulers of Ireland suppressed the name, and the Irish turned to Barney and Bernard as substitutes. A few Irish immigrants went back to Brian after arriving in America. The 1850 census found 855 Bryans and 264 Brians, with 30% of the Bryans and 57% of the Brians born in Ireland.

Many Bryans had no direct Irish connection, being part of the general fashion for turning surnames into given names. Bryan boomed as a first name when Nebraska’s William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925) became the Democratic nominee for president in 1896, shooting up 330% in one year to rank 157th. The name peaked again in 1900 and 1908 during Bryan’s other presidential runs.

Washington and Lee University to Keep Name

Earlier this month, university officials announced that Washington and Lee University will keep its name. After calls from students and faculty, university leaders have dismissed a vote in favor of changing the school’s name. The administration also announced millions of funding for scholarships and plans to establish an academic center for the study of race relations in the South. Read more about the decision to preserve its name here.

In a more recent opinion piece in The Washington Post, Colbert I. King articulates what the University really embraces when it says Lee fostered “an exceptional liberal arts and legal education and common experiences and values”, pointing to key speeches and letters that Lee composed prior to and while serving what was Washington College at the time. King writes,

“So happens that at the time, members of my family were undergoing “painful discipline” as “property” of the Colbert and Rixey families of Culpeper, according to Culpeper County courthouse records. Even if my kinfolk had made it to the Washington College campus, I don’t think a fine old time would have been waiting.”

Read King’s column about the implications of the University’s decision here.