Author Information

Mary Vargas


The Civil Rights Movement brought the plight of African Americans to the forefront of American political and intellectual thought. The ideological foundation of this movement was a feeling of black pride coupled with a strong sense of urgency for equality. Black activists and supporters, to express their solidarity and support of this movement, adorned symbolic clothing, accessories and hairstyles. Politics and fashion were fused during this time and the use of these symbolic fashion statements sent a clear message to America and the rest of the world that African Americans were proud of their heritage, that Black was indeed beautiful and that it was important to embrace ones African identity. Examples of significant cultural symbols that were used by black activists during, and since, the Movement to convey racial identity and pride include the use of Kente cloth in clothing designs, the uniform of the militant group the Black Panthers, and the “natural” African hairstyle called the Afro. These expressions of black pride are key examples of the Afrocentric principles held by the intellectual and political figures of the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements. This use of fashion to express black pride permanently fused the cause of equality with American culture and made the movement accessible to all supporters.

Note on the Author

Mary Vargas is a senior at Bridgewater State College majoring in History. This paper is the result of a research assignment for Dr. Margaret Lowe’s African-American History class. With the help and guidance of Dr. Lowe, Mary completed this paper during the Fall 2008 semester.

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