Art of the Month

In 2021 the art series with examine moments in African American history in an attempt to UNERASE our past

When Africans were kidnapped and bound into slavery, they brought many skill sets with them. One of the greatest myths was that the people came here without skills. In Colonial America, enslaved Africans began fulfilling the needs that colonist needed to be equal with Europeans. Some Africans making wigs and styling hair to help their masters keep up with the current trends. Having a nice wig, which covered bald spots in men, was often a sign of privilege.

As early as 1820 former slaves began opening businesses including those as hairstylists. Most of their clients were white people. But with the end of slavery, women of African descent began to spend time on their own hair. It opened a new market for women like Madam CJ Walker and Annie Malone, who created empires from helping African American women take care of their hair.

Malone and Walker also created a method where African American women could earn income outside their home by doing hair and selling products. They could do white people’s hair. They could do African American people’s hair. It was once said, hairstyles were created in Harlem, before they went out into the world.

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