The origin of Black History Month can be traced back to devoted historian Carter G. Woodson, who helped to initiate its first iteration–a week-long observance in 1915. His passion and efforts eventually led to the creation of Black History Month in 1976. And since then, every February, all over the United States (and now in several countries around the world!), we recognize the contributions and achievements of Black people throughout history, from politics and activism to business and innovation to science, art and culture.
From Madame C.J. Walker, beauty entrepreneur, inventor, and one of the first self-made millionaires in history, to activist and writer Angela Davis and her revolutionary afro, the legacy of Black people is interwoven throughout the history of hair and beauty. Black History Month is an opportunity to applaud this legacy past and living–the trailblazers, visionaries, and icons. It is also a chance to celebrate Black hair and beauty traditions and appreciate the long-standing influence of Black culture on the wider world of hair and beauty. With this, we are also reminded of the work still to be done to end hair discrimination and to make salons truly inclusive spaces for all clients and hair types.
Here are just a few articles, books, podcasts and more to get you started.
Hopefully, they can serve as inspiration for further learning all year long.
- The Crown We Never Take Off: A History of Black Hair Through the Ages, by Quani Burnett.
- Black Beauty: a Brief History of the African American Beauty Industry by Sophia Southard
- How Madame CJ Walker Became a Self-Made Millionaire, by Alexis Clark
- Black Representation in the Beauty Industry, David Baboolall, Tiffany Burns, Kristi Weaver, and Ammanuel Zegeye
- 6 Kids Speak Out about Hair Discrimination, New York Times, by Djeneba Aduayom and Charley Locke
- Twisted: The Tangled History of Black Hair Culture and Don’t Touch My Hair by Emma Dabiri
- Beauty Shop Politics. African American Women’s Activism in the Beauty Industry by Tiffany M. Gill
- Textures: The History and Art of Black Hair, Kent State University Museum, by Tameka Ellington and Joseph L. Underwood
- Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America, Lori L Tharps
The Black Beauty Effect, Documentary
- Shareefa Jennins on Continuous Learning & the UK’s New Hairdressing Guidelines, PhorestFM
- Christopher Aaron on Walking the Talk of Inclusion & Catering for All Types of Hair, PhorestFM
- The Beauty of Black Hair with Lori Tharps, Dear Culture
- Afro and Textured Hair with Emma Dabiri and Charlotte Mensah, The Beauty Podcast with Sali Hughes
Join the Fight to End Hair Discrimination or Start the Conversation in Your Local Area
- Sign the CROWN Act Petition, Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair
- Adopt the Halo Code
Celebrate World Afro Day on the 15th of September
“World Afro Day is a global day of change, education and celebration of Afro hair, culture and identity. Everyone is welcome on this journey.”
Image: [Salon] 718 in Brooklyn, New York