How Black Became Popular: Social Movements and Racial Rearticulation

Maxine Leeds Craig

in Ain't I a Beauty Queen?

Published in print June 2002 | ISBN: 9780195152623
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849345 | DOI:
How Black Became Popular: Social Movements and Racial Rearticulation

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This chapter traces the development of the natural or Afro hairstyle from its origins, among activists in social movement organizations and on college campuses, to its transformation into a popular commodity. The chapter is based on interviews with women who, as early participants in the Civil Rights Movement, were among the first to stop straightening their hair to wear what eventually became known as naturals or Afros. It documents the ways in which meanings and practices that emerged in social movement communities spread beyond the movement community to nonactivists. The chapter follows these meanings and practices beyond the borders of the movement to analyze what happens to the products of social movements when they are no longer embedded in and sustained by a social movement culture.

Keywords: African Americans; afros; hairstyle; social movements; naturals

Chapter.  13726 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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