Historical Figures in Black Hair History
Happy Monday, CurlMixers!
At CurlMix, history is everything to us; especially Black history. We're taking the time to pay respect to a few incredible Black women who’ve played a huge role in creating the Black hair community that is flourishing today. While we continue to appreciate and nourish our own curls, it’s essential that we respect the roots that our strands initially blossomed from.
Here are a few historical figures in Black Hair History that we’d love to shine a light on:
Behind every great curl stands this first extraordinary woman: Annie Turnbo Malone.
A lover of chemistry and hair, Annie Malone launched her line of hair products, including “The Great Wonderful Hair Grower”, in the early 1900s. With a revolutionary product made specifically for Black women, Annie Malone is credited with starting the market that we now recognize as the Black hair care industry.
While her business continued to expand and evolve, Annie founded the historic Poro College, a cosmetology school where Black women learned how to style hair and how to specialize in selling Malone’s products. One of Malone’s most notable students was Madam C.J. Walker, who considered Malone to be a prominent role model.
Madam C.J. Walker
The first Black, self-made female millionaire...all because of her dedication to Black hair. Where do we even start?
A former student of Annie Malone, Madam C.J. Walker launched her own line of hair care products for Black women (also in the early 1900s). Not only did her products prove to have incredible, beneficial effects for Black hair, but she also created a hair routine that became known as the “press and curl” (which remains popular to this day). Madam C.J. Walker left a tremendous mark on the Black hair care industry, and her dedication to empowering women by making them feel good about their hair remains a sentiment that we resonate with deeply.
Before the Natural Hair Movement came into its stride, we must first acknowledge another critical movement that pushed a healthier narrative forward: the Civil Rights Movement.
During the Civil Rights Movement, the line “Black is Beautiful” was used as an empowering mantra. Living true to that saying, many activists and leaders chose to adorn their natural state of hair. Angela Davis, political activist and educator, began to wear her hair naturally as an afro during this period. Her statement was as joyful and outstanding as her defying afro: I’m embracing my Blackness, and I’m loving every inch of myself.
Inspired by her natural hair, Black women everywhere decided to return to their roots and wear out their hair in its natural state. While hairstyles varied between wavy curls, luscious locs, and gorgeous fros, the message remained the same: your mane is perfect, untouched and natural.
We hope you enjoyed learning about these few historical figures in Black hair history! Are there any that you admire in particular? We’d love to hear more about it in the comments below!
The is a correction that must be made in your Madam C.J. Walker bio. She was the first female self- made millionaire in this country. Period. (Not just the first Black female). Thank you.
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