Census data shows that DeMarcus was a very rare name in the United States in the early twentieth century.
Although more recent census data isn’t publicly available, several studies show that it was still uncommon in the 1960s and 1970s.
However, in recent years it has become far more common. But is DeMarcus an exclusively African American name?
After extensive research, I’ve decided that it is…nearly, but not quite. Read on to find out how I gathered the data.
Is DeMarcus An African American First Name Currently?
Several archives have collected thousands of high school yearbooks from the early 1900s up to 2016.
I narrowed my search for students named DeMarcus to three southern states with a significant black population. My study focused on the available yearbooks from about 2011 to 2016.
This table is the summary of my review. The column headed “DeMarcus” was the total number of kids with the name that I found across the schools with uploaded yearbooks.
As you can see, DeMarcus was almost an exclusively African American name based on these yearbooks.
In case you’re wondering, these southern schools aren’t exclusively black. The photos show a diverse mix of heritage.
Are you curious about Mississippi not being one hundred percent?
There was a Demarcus (spelled with a small m) in a group shot of the football team. I’m pretty sure that this red-cheeked wide receiver was not black.
There was one black student with the first names of “Donte DeMarcus” that I included here. I also included it in our study on whether Donte is an African American name.
How about New Hampshire?
I then checked for DeMarcus in a state with a low black population.
Due to my father’s work, I attended middle school for one year in New Hampshire. There was one other black kid in 8th grade.
I searched the New Hampshire yearbooks from 2009 to 2016 for anyone named DeMarcus. There wasn’t a single person to be found.
In contrast, there were nearly three hundred students named John!
Explaining the table
Of course, there are more than thirteen schools in Louisiana (there are 558 to be exact). But not all have their yearbooks online.
The second column in the table shows the number of schools where I found at least one student with DeMarcus as his first name.
There were plenty of schools that didn’t have anyone with the name in that recent period.
The “DeMarcus” column is the total number of students named DeMarcus that appear in the yearbooks in that state.
The last column shows the percentage that I judged to be African American.
The challenge of using high school photos
If you’ve looked at historic census records in the U.S., you’ll know that ethnicity is one of the questions that people are asked.
This means that the census archives can be searched by ethnicity as well as specific names. However, I could only search the high school yearbooks by student names and school locations.
So, how did I identify African Americans from people of other heritage?
Well, the recent high school yearbooks have photographs of the students. I did it by eye.
I’m not going to be right with every pick. So, treat these numbers as an estimate.
DeMarcus Was Not A Common Black Name In The 1960s and 70s
A research study used mortgage applications from 2007 to identify the breakdown of first names by ethnicity.
We can guess that most of the applicants were in their thirties and forties. So, the numbers represent people born in the 1960s and 1970s.
When I looked at the data, there was not a single person named DeMarcus.
In contrast, the applicants named Demetrius were seventy percent black.
Was DeMarcus A Black Name In The 19th And Early 20th Century?
To review whether DeMarcus was a popular first name in the 19th and early 20th centuries, I looked at several federal censuses.
The first survey after the Civil War and the freeing of slaves was taken in 1870. This was the first time that all African Americans were counted in the census.
There were only two black people named DeMarcus in the 1870 census. One was in Jackson, Missouri, while the other was in Arkansas.
But that was out of a total of sixty-eight residents with the name DeMarcus that year. So, the black contingent represented a very low three percent.
The total number of people named DeMarcus had dropped to thirty-five in 1900. Only one was black. That’s still three percent!
This one individual was a four-year-old boy in Georgia.
There were even fewer people named DeMarcus by 1940 with only thirty in total. As two were black, the black percentage was now seven percent.
But that was still a small percentage of a very small number of people.
My conclusion is that DeMarcus was not a typically black name in older eras.
Why Did DeMarcus Become A Popular African American Name?
Influenced by the civil rights era, there was a major trend in the 1970s and 1980s for African Americans to create new or unusual names for their children.
I’ve shown that DeMarcus was an unusual name in the early twentieth century. It was almost non-existent.
However, the first name Marcus has always been more common. We have a separate article on Marcus as an African American name.
African American parents often added the prefix of “de” or “le” to adapt common names into black culture.
Why “de” and “le”? That may stem from the French influence in Louisiana.
Early Origins Of DeMarcus
Historically, the name has French origins.
It means “of Marcus”. The early bearers would be descendants of someone with the personal name Marcus.