I’ve followed several conversations on parents’ forums about whether Donte is a typically African American first name.
Their replies are usually based on the people they know by that name. This review strives to be more objective.
Census data shows that Donte was a very rare name in the United States in the early twentieth century.
Although more recent census data isn’t publicly available, one financial study suggests that it was still uncommon in the 1960s and early 1970s.
However, my review of recent high school yearbooks show that the name has become far more common. But is Donte an exclusively African American name?
Is Donte 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 to three southern states with a significant black population. Then I combed through yearbooks from about 2004 to 2016.
The table below is the summary of my review. The column headed “Donte” was the total number of kids with the name that I found across the schools with uploaded yearbooks.
As you can see, Donte was almost an exclusively African American name based on these yearbooks. By the way, all the students with the name were male.
In case you’re wondering, these southern schools aren’t exclusively black. The photos show a diverse mix of heritage.
My conclusion is that Donte is a typically African American male name in the 21st century.
Are you curious about Georgia not being one hundred percent? There was one young bespectacled Donte who was white (in my opinion).
There was another kid (black) whose first names were “Donte DeMarcus”. I’ve counted him here but I also included him in our study on DeMarcus.
If you’re curious, check out our separate article that asks if DeMarcus is an African American name.
How about New Hampshire?
I then checked for Donte 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 2004 to 2016 for anyone named Donte. There wasn’t a single person to be found.
In contrast, there were over 840 results when I searched for students named John!
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.
Explaining the table
Of course, there are more than thirteen schools in Louisiana (there are 558 to be exact). But many schools don’t have yearbooks available online.
The second column in the table shows the number of schools where I found at least one student with Donte as his first name.
There were plenty of schools that didn’t have anyone with the name in that recent period.
The “Donte” column is the total number of students named Donte that appear in the yearbooks in that state.
The last column shows the percentage that I judged to be African American.
Donte Was Not A Common Black Name In The 1960s and Early 1970s
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 early 1970s.
When I looked at the data, there was not a single person named Donte.
So, I looked for similar names for comparison. The closest is Dante. The ethnic breakdown of mortgage applicants named Dante was:
- White: 60%
- Hispanic: 16%
- Asian or Pacific Islands: 16%
- Black: 8%
As you can see, the black percentage is the lowest.
The only other name that was close in spelling was Donato. Applications named Donato were
- White: 70%
- Hispanic: 13%
- Asian or Pacific Islands: 18%
- Black: 0 %
In other words, Donato had no black representation amongst the mortgage applicants.
My conclusion is that Donte was not an African American name in the 1960s and 1970s.
Was Donte A Black Name In The 19th And Early 20th Century?
To review whether Donte 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 people named Donte in the 1870 census. Both were white. One was male and the other was a four-year-old girl.
The total number had grown to nine residents in the 1900 census. Only one was black. This young Donte was a seven-year-old girl in Texas.
By 1940, there were 49 people named Donte in the United States. But now, none were black.
My conclusion is that Donte was not a typically black name in older eras.
Why Has Donte Become A Popular African American Name?
I’ve shown that Donte was an unusual name in black communities right up to the 1960s and 1970s. It was almost non-existent.
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.
However, recent school yearbooks show that it has become far more popular for African American parents.