The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 43,404 black Americans with Bennett as their last name. That represented 18% of the total of 247,599 entries.
This article tracks their numbers in the census since the Civil War. We also look at historic African American people named Bennett.
We end with a review of early records of black military service 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 onwards, all black Americans were included.
3,712 people named Bennett were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 398 as mixed.
There was a total of 40,294 people with the name.
Bennett 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 8,071 people with the last name Bennett as black within a total of 76,089 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 14,618 people named Bennett as black within a total of 131,121.
Historic Black Figures With The Bennett Surname
Here are some notable African Americans in history with Bennett as their last name.
- Born: 1928
- From: Clarksdale, Mississippi
- Died: 2018
Lerone Bennett Jr. attended Morehouse College, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in history. He started in journalism as a reporter for the Atlanta Daily World and later joined Jet magazine as an associate editor.
Bennett transitioned to Ebony magazine in 1958. He worked there for over fifty years as a senior editor and executive editor. He wrote extensively about African American history, politics, and civil rights.
In addition to his work in journalism, Bennett authored several acclaimed books. These include “Before the Mayflower: A History of Black America” and “The Shaping of Black America”.
Both are considered essential works in the study of African American history.
Lerone Bennett was inducted into the Hall Of Fame of the National Association Of Black Journalists in 2006.
Here are just a few other notable black journalists in the Hall Of Fame:
- Born: 1933
- From: Greenville, South Carolina
- Died: 2013
Marion D. Bennett was one of six students in Atlanta who helped draft “An Appeal for Human Rights”, a document published on March 9, 1960.
The students were supporting those who had recently been engaged in sit-in protests to secure civil rights.
The document was a call to action against segregation and discrimination in Atlanta, Georgia. It stated that the students could not tolerate the discriminatory conditions under which African Americans were living in Atlanta.
The “Appeal” quickly became a civil rights manifesto after it appeared as a full-page advertisement in Atlanta’s newspapers. It was denounced by Georgia’s governor but was acclaimed around the country.
The New York Times and Los Angeles Times reprinted it for free. It has since been entered into the Congressional Record.
Bennett In Black Military Records
Military records are a rich resource of for family history research. Here are examples of the Bennett surname from three different military services:
- Buffalo soldiers
- Black civil war sailors
- Tuskegee airmen
Five regiments for black soldiers were formed during the Civil War. They were known as the Buffalo Soldiers.
Their records are part of the national archive of military monthly returns. The information includes the year and place of birth, where they enlisted, their occupation, and their height.
One of the earliest military entries for Bennett was in September 1867. John W Bennett was a Recruit in the Tenth Cavalry. He was stationed in September 1867 at Baltimore, Maryland.
One of the later entries was in August 1914. Louis Bennett was a Private in the Ninth Cavalry.
If you are researching military ancestors, there is a free index of these records on Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org.
You have to create an account on either website, but you do not need to pay for the Buffalo Soldiers archive.
Black Civil War Sailors
The National Parks Service has a free archive of African American sailors during the Civil War.
The information includes their age, height, rank, occupation, and where and when they enlisted. It also includes every ship that they served on.
You can search the database on the National Parks website.
One of the earliest entries for Bennett was for Henry Bennett from Philadephia. He enlisted in October 1861 at New York when he was aged 22.
The record shows that Henry was assigned on January 1863 to the ship Unadilla.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Cook. His naval rank was Landsman.
“Landsman” was the lowest rank at the time and was given to recruits with little sea experience.
One of the later entries was for a sailor who enlisted at Philadelphia in May 1863. John was aged 21 and was from Charleston, South Carolina.
He was assigned to the ship Sagamore on October 1865.
His occupation before enlisting was as a Waiter. Like Henry, John was also a Landsman.
The Tuskegee Airmen were military personnel who served at the Tuskegee Army Airfield or related programs.
Nearly one thousand black pilots graduated from the Tuskegee Institute. They flew single-engine fighter planes or twin-engine bombers. 352 fought in combat.
Henry Bennett graduated from the Tuskegee Institute in October 1943. He qualified as a Liaison pilot. Henry was from New Orleans, Louisiana.
Joseph Bennett came from Halesite, New York. He graduated in January 1946 as a fighter pilot.
You can find a full list of graduate pilots in our list of Tuskegee Airmen.