Infographic: Black Hair History

Black hair has a rather interesting story to tell, so for this Black History Month I thought it would be great to do an infographic timeline. It’s always interesting to look back to see how much we have progressed and how much we have reverted back.

Infographic African American Hair History

A few things that I learned while doing this infographic that some of you may or many not already know:

  • Bacon grease and kerosene to groom hair? Just terrible.It is also said that this was also done to keep pests like lice away.
  • Before doing research for this infographic, I had know idea who Annie Malone was. Turns out that she was Madame CJ Walker’s inspiration. Although the hot comb was developed in France by an unknown source, Annie Malone was the first to patent the product. Madame CJ Walker improved the design later on by widening the teeth of the comb. Malone, was the first black woman to become a millionaire and had her own line of hair growth products well before Walker, yet we never hear about her.
  • The infographic serves as a brief overview timeline and did not got into the reasons why the natural movement died down in the 70’s. It essentially began to have a negative rep and people wanted to distance themselves from that image. In 1971 Melba Tolliver is fired from the ABC affiliate in New York for wearing an Afro while covering Tricia Nixon’s wedding.
  • Angela Davis is marked by the FBI as a fugitive. This actually leads to many other women of color who sported the afro being profiled.

“Their more subtle and wide-ranging effect was the way they served as generic images of black women who wore their hair “natural.” From the constant stream of stories I have heard over the last twenty-four years (and continue to hear), I infer that hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of Afro-wearing Black women were accosted, harassed, and arrested by police, FBI, and immigration agents during the two months I spent underground.” -Angela Davis

Then of course many faced workplace discrimination for wearing natural styles like braids or cornrows. As a replacement our good old friend Jheri came along.


My mom and dad have some back in the day pics where they are both sporting Jheri Curls….terrible!

It’s funny how history has repeated itself and we are back to sporting the fro. It just so happens that it is around a time where there has been many incidents of police brutality and racial profiling as was the case in the 70’s. I like to think of it as our way of saying we value ourselves, we find beauty in who we are even if the mainstream does not.

No matter what happens though please lets just never revert back to the 80’s! 80’s makeup, hair, and fashion was god awful.

Chime in! Anything you would like to share about the history of black hair? 

For further reading on Black Hair History check out these exceptional articles where I got my sources of information from: (About Annie Malone and Madame CJ Walker) (Where I got some pics from) (Most of the time line details came from here) (Photo of a 19th century woman taken from here) (The history about why the natural movement ended in the 70’s can be found here)

Interested in reading more about Black Hair History? Check out this book, Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America

2 thoughts on “Infographic: Black Hair History”

  1. This makes me wonder when the first relaxer kit was developed. Like the type we see in stores now. I think it was in the late 70’s or or 80’s. I know the earlier versions were pretty strong so a lot of people just did the press n’ curl. Good info! #blmgirl

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