Whether your hair is chemically straightened, in the throes of transitioning, or a la’ natural an excellent source of information on Black hair is Willie Morrow’s 400 Years Without a Comb. This is an excellent video to watch with kids so they understand our hair care struggles and are better able to embrace natural curls/kinks.


Morrow’s book is out of print and I sincerely thank whomever took time to upload video on his research because it certainly speaks to educating on a topic that continues to divide black people. It is Black History/Herstory month and I am down for unity in our communities. The video on You Tube runs is shown in parts 1-6.


What You Will Learn from 400 Years Without A Comb:

  • Styling of African hair was an art and a time for bonding between mother’s/ daughters/women
  • Intricate style could take up to two days
  • Girls and women took pride in hair grooming and styles

As enslaved Africans:

  • Hair was always to be kept covered
  • Scalp diseases were on-going
  • Sweat and head sores were common from working in the sun for hours with head coverings
  • Hair grooming aids were virtually non-existent
  • Hair was combed and cut with shears used for animals
  • Sunday was the only time hair and bathing could take place
  • Black women had to be savvy in order to work through damaged hair

After Slavery:

  • Black women were creative with hair grooming
  • Torn pieces of brown paper bags were used to set and curl hair
  • Hair oil was homemade as dryness was a big issue

Madame C J Walker:

  • Madame C J Walker was the first black millionaire
  • Her hair care products sold to thousands of black women
  • She revolutionized the straightening comb which provided new options
  • Black women found ways to pay for her products

I won’t spoil the rest of the video, but I definitely encourage you to take time to watch with youth. Understanding our hair story may helps us to appreciate where we are today in terms of hair and instills self-pride and love-of-self.

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About The Author

C. Imani Williams, is a freelance writer and social justice activist. She works to bring about awareness and positive change. Imani's writing has appeared in Black Fem Lit Magazine, Alt. Variety, Teen Girl Talk Magazine, Diva Gossip, Hello Shopper, Geleyi and various other publications. Imani, holds an MFA in Creative Non-Fiction writing from Antioch University. The Detroit, Michigan native resides in So. California, where she greets the sun with a smile.

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