Ali As An African American Last Name

The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 18,426 black Americans with Ali as their last name. That represented 31% of the total of 60,002 entries.

This article tracks their numbers in the census since the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Ali.

We end with a review of other early archives in the United States.

After The Civil War

The 1870 census was the first survey after the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation. In 1850 and 1860, only free African Americans were recorded in the census. The many enslaved were omitted.

From 1870 onward, all black Americans were included.

However, there wasn’t a single person named Ali in the 1870 census who was recorded as black or mixed.

There was a total of 60 people with the name.

Ali In The 1900 And 1940 Census

The mixed category was dropped from the census in 1900, so we just need to look at the black numbers this time.

The 1900 census recorded 4 people with the last name Ali as black within a total of 78 that year.

By the way, the mixed category returned in the 1910 and 1920 censuses. It was dropped again in 1930, but replaced with extra categories for colored and non-white in a way that seems confusing now.

This changed again in 1940 and we can simply focus on one black category.

The 1940 census recorded 133 people named Ali as black within a total of 639.

Historic Black Figures With The Ali Surname

Here is a notable African American in history with Ali as their last name.

Sunni Ali

  • Born: Unknown
  • From: West Africa

Sunni Ali was the 15th ruler of the Sunni dynasty in West Africa. He established the Songhai Empire.

Ali In The Freedmen’s Bureau Records

The Freedmen’s Bureau was established after the Civil War to help newly freed African Americans. You can read more in our article on researching the Freedmen archives.

I found just one record for Ali in the archives. There was an employment record for a Leonorah Ali who was employed in May 1869 as a teacher in Liberty, Georgia.

The picture above is a contemporary illustration of a Freedman school. Notice that the teachers in the picture are likely white women, while the students are black. Leonorah was different in that she was also black.