In the 1960’s black people were all about Black Power. The civil rights movement was in full swing and groups like SCLC, SNCC and The Black Panther Party were fighting for African Americans to have full civil rights. As part of this movement of consciousness and activism, African Americans found pride in their personal style as well. Angela Davis is an icon of the civil rights movement who continues to fight for prison reform and justice to this day, but among the most memorable images of the 60’s is her full, fabulous afro.
Women like Black Panther leader Kathleen Cleaver, who was married to Eldridge Cleaver, the minister of information for the Black Panther party, also rocked a full ‘fro, as did most members of the Party. Afros were in style for others during the 60’s and the 70’s as the Jackson 5 and basketball stars like Julius Erving were well known for their towering afros. Basketball star Ben Wallace, for years the intimidating enforcer in the paint for the Detroit Pistons became so known for his afro, he inspired the catchphrase “Fear The Fro,” during his career. In music, there was even a short-lived hip-hop group in the late 80’s and early 90’s called The Afros.
Probably the most famous afro wearer of recent times is Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, the drummer for the hip-hop band The Roots. His prominent afro inspired the interlude “Afro” on his buddy Erykah Badu’s first album “Baduizm”, where she sang “You better pick your afro, daddy/Cause its flat on one side.” And in fact, Quest once set a world record for wearing the most afro picks in his hair during a performance.
Here are other looks at the history of the Afro:
Kathleen Cleaver: “Black is Beautiful”
Ben Wallace; “Fear the Fro”
The Afros: “Kicking Afrolistics”
The Jackson 5: “ABC”
Angela Davis: “The Black Power Mixtape”
Quest Love demonstrates proper Fro grooming: