World Afro Day: 9 of the most iconic Afros
It’s World Afro Day an opportunity to honour and acknowledge natural hair.
“Afro-hair is rarely celebrated, especially globally and World Afro Day seeks to change this,” says the organising body.
While Afro hair discrimination still exists, natural hair is not quite the political statement it once was – particularly with measures such as the Halo Code in the UK and the Crown Act in America. These are some of the most memorable Afros, from civil rights activists through to pop culture icons today…
1. Angela Davis
For activist Angela Davis, her Afro was a political statement – a bold visual reminder of her blackness, and a departure from the Eurocentric ideals of straight hair.
2. Nina Simone
Nina Simone was another strong voice in the civil rights movement. Her proud Afro was very much in line with her politically minded music – including the civil rights anthem To Be Young, Gifted And Black.
3. The Jackson 5
Bursting to fame in the 1970s, the members of the Jackson 5 had a distinctive look: brightly coloured and patterned suits, all topped off with perfectly round Afros.
4. Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix is instantly recognisable with his voluminous Afro, but it’s only a look he adopted in the last two years of his life – ditching his treated hair for a more natural look.
Solange is a hair chameleon who often rocks an Afro – most memorably for her 2014 wedding, paired with a standout white jumpsuit.
6. Erykah Badu
One of the songs on Erykah Badu’s 1997 debut album Baduizm is ‘Afro’ – and particularly early on in her career, she was known for her glorious curls.
7. Viola Davis
Viola Davis has given us some major red carpet Afro moments – first showing her natural hair at the 2012 Oscars. In 2020 she opened up to InStyle about her decision to wear her natural hair, saying: “I’m at a period where I want to step into who I am. I’ve spent too long not feeling pretty or feminine enough — not feeling enough. And part of that was about my hair! Like any fear in life, I had to deal with it.”
8. Lauryn Hill
Lauryn Hill’s Afro is the stuff of legends – and she’s even passed it on to lookalike daughter Selah Marley.
9. Tracee Ellis Ross
She definitely got it from her mother Diana Ross – and now Tracee Ellis Ross is building an empire around her hair. Her haircare brand, Pattern Beauty is a roaring success – no doubt because Ross’s curls are the best advertisement you can get.