This day in "Black Hair History " We take a look at the: Black Fist Afro Comb
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By Sally-Ann Ashton
Senior Assistant Keeper, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
The black fist Afro comb is an evocative symbol of the second half of the twentieth century. Coming into production at some point in the 1970s, the comb’s marriage of object and iconography was a perfect one. With its reference to the Black Power movement, and its historical links to the re-emergence of the popularity of the wider-toothed hair pick in the USA to serve the Afro hairstyle, , the comb has become more than simply representative of an era and a political affiliation. It also symbolises Black pride and identity.
During this period many African Americans sought to reaffirm their cultural identity by not straightening their hair to follow mainstream European fashions. The traditional ‘Afro’, which first emerged in the 1950s, is a style not a natural phenomenon: the hair needs to be cut in a certain way and maintained with a pik or comb. Because many types of African hair are tightly curled or coiled, a wider- toothed comb is a healthier way of grooming combing through the hair. For those who chose to grow their hair in an unprocessed state, the longer teeth of the pik were perfect for maintaining an Afro hairstyle. The earliest comb of this form to emerge was patented in 1969 by two African Americans, Samuel H. Bundles Jr., and Henry M. Childrey (Tulloch). It was not long before variations of this useful new tool began to emerge and be patented. This included the folding comb, the patent for which was filed in 1970 and granted in 1971 #afro #afros
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