In the light of Black History Month, we would love to take you through some top black hair moments that have shaped black hair culture and have brought us to where we are today.
Black hair has influenced everything from the runway to the red carpet to mainstream media to even our individual personal life. And while some may deem cornrows, box braids, and kinky curls a new phenomenon, Black hair has always had a history that inspires people.
What is Black History Month?
Black History Month is a month-long celebration of the achievements of Black people throughout history right up to today. It is an opportunity for people to learn about the history and the black community while also making strides to eradicate the inequality that still exists in society today.
Initially, Black History Month was a way of teaching students and young people about Black and African-Americans' contributions, such stories had been largely forgotten and were a neglected part of the national narrative.
Now, it's seen as a celebration of those who have impacted the world with their activism and achievements. In the US, the month-long spotlight during February is an opportunity for people to engage with Black histories, go beyond discussions of racism and slavery, and highlight Black leaders and accomplishments.
Now to some good stuff!
Let’s take a look at the top Black Hair Moments:
1. Madam Cj Walker
Combining both beauty sensibility and business savvy, Madam CJ Walker (aka Sarah Breedlove) built a wildly successful hair empire around the innovation of the pressing comb. She also created the first relaxer which changed the black hair game forever. Ambitious, driven, and dedicated to her company, Madam CJ Walker became the first female self-made millionaire in the United States. Talk about #womenatthetop.
2. Josephine Baker
Legendary entertainer Josephine Baker's flapper-chic split curls set the Black hair standard during the Roaring Twenties. In October 1925, during her legendary debut at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees in Paris, she wore her hair short, straightened, and smoothed against her skull, with Medusa-like curls framing her face. This was an absolute showstopper.
3. Cicely Tyson
African-American actress Cicely Tyson was the very first celebrity to rock cornrows to the mainstream, setting off the trend amongst black women across America. But it wasn’t until Bo Derek rocked the style in red swimsuit in the movie “10”that it got worldwide attention, becoming the vacation hairstyle of choice for generations.
4. Pam Grier
Actress Pam Grier made a name for herself in the seventies with her big afro and her iconic roles in black plantation films like Foxxy Brown and The Big Bird Cage. Her big afro style was followed by many other black entertainers in the 70’s, including Chaka Khan setting the big sexy afro trend.
These Black women have made a remarkable impact on Black hair culture and have served as role models to younger generations. Their impact is not only limited to hair, but they also inspired black women to do more. These natural hairstyles have re-emerged in present days and provided positive Black hair representation in popular culture.
Cultural appropriation often leeches through the very seams that Black people have fought so hard to break free from. These top Black hair moments however serve as a foundation for Black hair today and we are inspired to be our best selves.