It’s black history month! Let’s talk a little bit about the history of black hair. Here’s a brief black hair timeline from thirstyroots.com.
1800s: Without the resources to care for black hair that they had in Africa, slaves resorted to using bacon grease, butter and kerosene as hair conditioners and cleaners.
1865: Post slavery, black women were encouraged to assimilate by styling their hair in ways acceptable to white culture. There was pressure to have “good” hair in order to be allowed in certain schools, social groups, churches and business networks.
1880s: The hot comb (originally developed by the French to replicate Egyptian hairstyles) became available in the United States. The combs were used to press and straighten kinky hair.
1900s: Madame C.J. Walker created her line of hair-care products for black hair. Walker made the press-n-curl style very popular among African Americans. Walker is featured in the Guinness Book of Records as the first American woman to be a self-made millionaire.
1920s: African Americans are encouraged to embrace their natural hair and reclaim their African appeal by Marcus Garvey.
1954: The Johnson Products Company came out with the Ultra Wave Hair Culture product line. It was a “permanent” hair straightener for men and it could be applied at home. Soon after the product launched a woman’s line followed.
1963: Actress Cicely Tyson wears cornrows on a television and makes a statement “East Side/West Side”
1966: Model Pat Evans defies both black and white standards of beauty and shaves her head.
1968: Actress Diahann Carroll was first black woman to star in a television network series. She played in the show “Julia,” as a darker version of the all-American girl, with straight curled hair.
1970: Angela Davis a well-known icon of “Black Power” make a statement with her large Afro.
1971: Melba Tolliver is fired from the ABC affiliate in New York for wearing an Afro while covering the wedding of Tricia Nixon.
1977: The Jheri curl exploded on the black hair scene. It was a curly perm for black people, the ultra-hairstyle lasted well through the 1980s.
1980: Model-actress Grace Jones pops up on the scene with her trademark flattop fade hairstyle
1988: Spike Lee movie “School Daze” touches the topic of good hair/bad hair light-skinned/dark-skinned schism in black America.
1998: Carson Inc., creator of Dark & Lovely and Magic Shave for Black men purchased the Johnson Products of Chicago in 1998. L’Oreal purchase the Carson company later and merged with the Soft Sheen company.
Check out this video on black hair through years. Remember that your hair is your crown so wear it loud and wear it proud. Happy Black History Month!