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Black Female Hair Through The Decades: From Post-WWII To Post-Civil Rights Era!!

POST WAR – 1946


By the late 1940s, the war had ended. Although black people weren’t exactly thriving, they were finally developing a culture. Unfortunately, assimilation was still a very prevalent staple of our black culture.

In the 50s, a man by the name of George E Johnson began a men’s haircare line out of Chicago. He developed a hair straightening tool that permanently altered the texture of their hair. It was such a popular tool that women used it for themselves. And thus, the relaxer was developed.

Along with this style came many other styles that resembled white hair. The poodle cut, the Italian cut, high ponytail, and the bob were all hairstyles that became popular for the baby boomer generation.



There were several acts of activism that occurred throughout the years post-slavery. However, the civil rights movement didn’t pick up steam until the early 60s, under leaders like the SCLC, NAACP, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

As a result, activists began to promote black pride. Pro-black groups, like the Black Panthers, used the afro as a staple for black hair. Instead of using chemicals to get the kink out, they embraced their coarse hair and showed it off. Actress Cicely Tyson introduced the world to cornrows on the television show drama, East Side/West Side.


Products were developed to help hair grow. Blacks were looking toward our African brothers and sisters for hair care advice. We were getting back to our roots.

Black women were setting statements, some of which even got fired for wearing their natural hair on the job. It was an extremely risky act, but it created a trend of pride and power.


hair3Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed. As a society, we were outraged. However, on the other hand, the law started to show signs of progress. Voting acts were being signed. Our rights were being acknowledged.

Black pride is winning.

In the 1970s, we were really getting back to our roots. Black people were putting beads and shells in their hair. Wearing dashikis and learning about our culture from pre to post slavery.

In fact, Kwanzaa became an extremely popular holiday for blacks to celebrate. It was the time we were inclined to learn about our people and culture.

hair4During the late 70s, interracial dating was becoming acceptable. Biracial children were being born and discussion was being raised about “Good Hair” versus “Bad hair.” Although this debate stems from as far as slavery, it is extremely prevalent in the late 70s.

In 1977, Jheri Redding invented an alternative to perm that produces a glossy, loosely curled look. Celebrities such as Michael Jackson were seen sporting this look in public.



Written by How Africa

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