McKenzie As An African American Last Name

The 2010 U.S. Census recorded 17,062 black Americans with McKenzie as their last name. That represented 29% of the total of 59,595 entries.

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

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 onward, all black Americans were included.

632 people named McKenzie were recorded in the 1870 census as black and 74 as mixed.

There was a total of 5,543 people with the name.

You may know that the McKenzie name has old European origins. If you’re curious, we have a separate article on the reasons why some African Americans have Scottish surnames.

McKenzie 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 1,201 people with the last name McKenzie as black within a total of 13,611 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 3,712 people named McKenzie as black within a total of 28,367.

Historic Black Figures With The McKenzie Surname

Here are some notable African Americans in history with Mckenzie as their last name.

Marjorie McKenzie

  • Born: 1912
  • From: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Died: 2002

Marjorie McKenzie got her degree and masters from the University of Michigan and completed a law degree at Terrell Law School in 1939. Belford Lawson was teaching law at Terrell and they married after Marjorie graduated.

Both lawyers worked closely on civil rights cases. Marjorie focused on real estate and housing legislation. John F. Kennedy used Lawson as his representative at meetings with black organizations from 1957.

The President appointed her as a judge in 1962, making her the first African American woman to serve in the role in D.C. Four years later, President Lyndon B. Johnson sent her to the U.N. to serve on the Economic and Social Council.

Vashti Murphy Mckenzie

  • Born: 1947
  • From: Baltimore, Maryland

Vashti Murphy grew up in a family that published the black newspaper, the Baltimore Afro-American. Vashti was writing obituaries for the newspaper as a teenager.

She married Stan McKenzie, a football player in the NBA, when she was in college but completed a degree in journalism.

Vashti McKenzie worked in radio and had a newspaper column through the 1970s. But she was drawn to ministry and studied divinity at Howard University. McKenzie was ordained as a minister in the AME church in 1984. She spent ten years as a pastor in Baltimore.

McKenzie was elected as bishop in 2000, the first woman to attain this position. At the time, she told her congregation:

Because of God’s favor, the stained-glass ceiling has been pierced and broken.

Mckenzie In Black Military Records

Military records are a rich resource of information for family history research. Here are examples of the Mckenzie surname from military service.

Buffalo Soldiers

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 McKenzie was in August 1888. Edward McKenzie was a Sergeant in the U.S. Ninth Cavalry. He was stationed in August 1888 at Fort Robinson, Nebraska.

One of the later entries was in October 1903. Frank McKenzie was a Trumpeter in the U.S. Ninth Cavalry.

If you are researching military ancestors, there is a free index of these records on and

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.

James McKenzie

One of the earliest entries for McKenzie was for James McKenzie from Norfolk, Virginia. He enlisted in January 12 1863 at Gosport Navy Yard when he was aged 24.

The record shows that James was assigned on April 1 1863 to the ship Hendrick Hudson.

His occupation before enlisting was as a Fisherman. His naval rank was Landsman.

“Landsman” was the lowest rank at the time and was given to recruits with little sea experience.