Last Updated on July 17, 2022 by BVN
S. E. Williams |
When young people in the 1960’s claimed racial pride, nothing was more indicative of that proclamation than the beautiful afro hair.
The hairstyle shifted the cultural norm and inspired Black Americans to lay down their hot combs and screw the lids on jars of perm previously used to straighten kinky Black crowns, and instead to embrace the African-ness evident in their curly, kinky crowns.
Nothing was more indicative of Black culture during that era than the Afro hair styles, Afro Sheen® hair products, and the Afro picks that kept the hairstyle well coiffed.
The San Diego barber, Wille Morrow, who became the pioneer of the Afro picks, passed away in June at the age of 82.
Morrow was inspired to create and market the unique style of comb after he was gifted a wooden version of it from a friend who had visited Nigeria in 1962. The comb was uniquely suited for Black hair with its widely spaced prongs compared to the traditional comb where the teeth are positioned very close together.
As recounted by his daughter, Cheryl Morrow, during a recent interview, her father taught himself how to make and manufacturer the comb for sale in the western world. It took a while however, for it to catch fire in the market place.
The opportunity came however with the rise of the Civil Rights movement and the elevation of Black pride as an intrinsic part of that movement. This included embracing Black culture and racial pride as evidenced by celebrating the kinkiness of Black hair.
Morrow would become an expert on the natural hairstyle and go on to write books about it including “Curly Hair: A Specialized Text on Styling the Natural Afro and Straight Hair” initially published in 1973.
According to his daughter, at one point during the peak of his production Morrow sold as many as 12,000 combs per week.
Surprisingly, Morrow was also hired by the Pentagon in 1969 to teach hundreds of military barbers how to style naturals using his pick.