A Strange Place for a Revolution: Lessons from Black Beauty Shops during an Era of Crisis

Black beauticians during the Civil Rights era were keenly aware of the economic autonomy their profession afforded them, the unique institutional space they controlled, and the access they had to black women within their communities. They were instrumental in developing a political infrastructure for African American women’s involvement in the Civil Rights movement that was, for the most part, under black female control and under the radar from whites unsympathetic to the cause of racial justice.

Lecture Description

Rather than dismissing the beauty industry as frivolous or a tool of racial and gender oppression, I discuss the ways that black women have used the beauty industry to broaden our understanding of what it means to work for black freedom. This lecture highlights an unlikely group of black women activists in the hopes that their unconventional approaches to protecting and preserving black life will be instructive as we confront the challenges of today.


Business and Economics Civil Rights

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