imageSINCE FEBRUARY IS BLACK HISTORY MONTH-A time to remember important people and events that shaped the lives of African Americans- We thought it was an ideal time to explore how hairstyle have been interwoven into that history. It is a story that continues to evolve. Here is a look back at some of the key events and people who shaped the black hair story.


1444- Europeans trades on the coast of Africa with people wearing elaborate hairstyles. Including locks,plaits and twists.

1619-First slaves brought to Jamestown. African language, culture and grooming tradition begin to disappear.

1700s- Calling black wool many whites dehumanize slaves. The more elaborate African hairstyle cannot be retained.

1800s- Without the combs and herbal treatments used in Africa, slaves rely on bacon grease, butter and kerosene as hair conditioners and cleaners. Lighter-skinned, straight- haired slaves command higher prices at auction than darker, more kinky-haired ones. Internalizing color consciousness, black promote the idea that blacks with dark skin and kinky hair are less attractive and worth less.

1865-Slavery ends, but whites look upon black women who style their hair like white women as well adjusted. “GOOD” hair become a prerequisite for entering certain schools, churches,social groups and business networks.

1880- Metal hot combs, invented in 1845 by the French, are readily available in the United States. The comb is heated and used to press and temporary straighten kinky hair.

1900s- Madame C.J Walker develops a range of hair care products for black hair. She popularizes the press and curl styles. Some criticize her for encouraging black women to look white.

1910- Walker is featured in the Guinness book of records as the first American female self-made millionaire.


1920s-  Marcus Garvey, a black nationalist urges followers to embrace their natural hair and reclaim an African aesthetic.

1954- George E . Johnson launches the Johnson products empire with ultra wave hair culture, a permanent ” hair straightener for men that can be applied at home. A women’s chemical straightener follows.


1962-  Actress Cicely Tyson wears cornrows on the television drama ” East Side/ West Side”.

1966- 1966 Model Pat Evans defies both black and white standards of beast and shaves her head.

1968 – Actress Diahann Carroll is the first black women to star in a television network series, “Julia”. She is darker version of the American girl with straightened curled hair.

1970-Angela Davis becomes and icon of  BLACK POWER with her large Afro.

1971- Melba Tolliver is fired the ABC affiliate in New York for wearing an Afro while covering Tricia Nixon’s wedding.

1977- The Jheri curl explodes on the black scene. Billed as a curly perm for blacks, the  ultra-moist hairstyle lasts though the 1980s

1979- braids and beads cross the color line when Bo Derek appears with cornrows in the movie “10”


1980- Model- actress Grace Jone Sports her trademark flat top fade.

1988- Spike Lee exposes the good hair/ bad hair light- skinned/dark skinned schism in black American in his movies” School Daze”

1990- Sisters love the weave,” Essence” magazine declares. A variety of natural styles and locks also become more accepted.

1997- Singer Erykah Badu poses on the cover of her debut album ” Baduizm” with her her wrapped, ushering in an eclectic brand of Afrocentrism.

1998- Carson inc. creator of Dark & Lovely  and Magic Shave  for black men, acquires the black- owned beauty company Johnson products of Chicago in 1998. L’ Oreal purchases Carson two years later and merges it was Soft Sheen.

1999- ” People Magazine names locks-topped Grammy award-winning


2001- Rapper lil Kim wears platinum blonde weave while singer Macy Gray sports a new school Afro. Some black women perm, some press, and others go with natural twists, braids and locks.

2003- New Bedford, Mass dance teacher Amy Fernandes refuses to allow 4 years old Amari Diaw to participate in her ballet dance recital along with the other children in her class who have been practicing for exciting event because she require the girls to pulled it back into a bun. Fernandes, however insisted that the braided be removed and that Amari’s hair be pulled back straight into a bun.

2006- Baltimore Police Departments new more rigid professional Apperance standards prohibit such hairstyles as cornrows, dreadlocks and twists. These natural hairstyle are deemed to be extreme and a fad by the department.  Black Hair Care Becomes A Billion-Dollar Industry!


2007- MSNBC radio host Don Imus loses his job when he calls the Rutgers” women’s basketball team some “Nappy-Headed HOS”.


2008- The New Yorker” draws heat when a cover photo portrays Michelle Obama with and Afro and an AK 47 machine gun and Barack Obama in a reinforces negative stereotypes about both Muslims and natural hair.

2009- Comic Chris Rock unveils “Good Hair” at the Sundance film festival, exploring the way black hair style impact the activities, and self-esteem of black people





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