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Afro

The hair-do that simply exploded out of the head – BOOM!

Also the hair-do that told everyone you were bigger, better and badder than all the rest (Like Superfly).

Shaft wore one, and so did Black Panthers leader Angela Davis, and as Black Pride took to the streets, African-Americans not only reclaimed an affection for African dress and accessories, but many stopped processing and relaxing their hair in an attempt to conform to white standards of beauty.

But who had the biggest ‘fro? Cleopatra Jones, Link from The Mod Squad, or Bernie from Room 222?

And what was the deal with white people with afro’s?

Even Greg Brady sported one for a while, Barbra Streisand had one in A Star is Born and Linda Blair had a really long one in many of her films (including Roller Boogie).

The afro made its first stand as racial rebellion in the 1950’s. Malcolm X preached about the whitening of black hair by having it chemically relaxed and tamed. Followers of the militant leader agreed, growing out their afros as a slight to whitey.

The Blackstone Rangers, an African-American street gang, cultivated the ranger bush – A tall, compact afro which helped soften the blows received to the head from police billy clubs.

The idea was that the solidarity of the African people in a western dominated world helped to protect blacks against brutality, whether physical or psychological. And the afro was the crowning glory of the fight.

During the racially expressive 60s, the afro moved from militant mane to counterculture coif. Hippies opened their arms to their fellow man, and whites with naturally curly and kinky hair cultivated their own ‘fros in a show of racial harmony.

afro_400Marsha Hunt’s glorious afro turned her into the poster girl for the musical Hair, and her afro became as symbolic of the 60s as the peace sign.

The ghetto fascination of the 70s brought the afro into the mainstream. Funk all-stars Sly & The Family Stone sported wicked ‘fros with bedazzled jumpsuits and platform boots, inspiring blacks and whites to get their groove on. Michael Jackson‘s afro jived from the early days of The Jackson 5 until his Off the Wall album of 1979.

Blaxploitation films hustled the afro from symbol of black pride to symbol of black power.

A true afro meant much more than letting the hair grow in a carefree style like the straight and uncut hippie look.

An afro needed meticulous care including meticulous raking with a big hair pick, or “Afro rake” and treating with a big black jar of Afro Sheen.

Afros could be cropped-close to the head or grown to such wide dimensions that it was hard to get through the door. Whatever the size, having a perfectly symmetrical crown of glory was the ultimate.

For those that had less-than-foxy ‘fros, or for white fashion victims who desired to emulate their favourite black entertainers, you could buy a perfectly shaped synthetic wig version.

Made of 100% Dynel, this curled coif guaranteed you a look to rival that of Jimi Hendrix.

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