Styling Jim Crow: African American Beauty Training During Segregation

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Texas A & M University Press, 2003 - Business & Economics - 183 pages
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In this volume, Julia Kirk Blackwelder focuses on the beauty education industry in racially segregated communities from World War I through the 1960s. In this revealing study of two black beauty companies of the Jim Crow era, Blackwelder looks at the industry as a locus of black entrepreneurial effort and an opportunity for young women to obtain training and income that promised social mobility within the African American community. Blackwelder demonstrates that commerce, gender norms, politics, and culture all intersected inside African American beauty schools of the Jim Crow era. The book centers on Marjorie Stewart Joyner of the Madam C. J. Walker beauty chain and James H. Jemison of the Franklin School of Beauty, two educators who worked throughout their business lives to liberate women from the clutches of racial prejudices. They stood at the helms of enterprises that brought self-reliance and pride of accomplishment to generations of African Americans. Blackwelder's well-documented story shows how succeeding generations of black women advanced into dignified economic independence though work that they and their clients valued for its intangible worth.

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About the author (2003)

Julia Kirk Blackwelder is associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and a professor of history at Texas A&M University, where she has taught since 1993. In her two earlier books published by Texas A&M University Press and in her many articles and essays, she has focused primarily on aspects of women and work. That interest led her to the archives of African American beauty schools and the writing of Styling Jim Crow. Blackwelder earned her Ph.D. from Emory University.

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