Friday, February 20, 2009

Black History Month....Fashion and the Black Woman, Part II

I'm going to run out of February before I get to all the women I want to talk about here! No worries, I'll extend it into March if need be (and to that end, I really think limiting focus on American Africans in history to one month out of a year is a little foolish).

I recently read an article by a political pundit (when I locate it I will link, can't remember right now) lamenting that it has become almost impossible for women to reconcile their appreciation for Michelle Obama's fashionable side with their respect for her as a a professional (lawyer, and now First Lady). That to speak of her in regard to her clothing choices (or rather, that of her stylists) was somehow tantamount to announcing you are a vapid fashionista with no more capacity in your vacant noggin than for what the latest issue of Vogue says to wear this Spring. That as women, we cannot manage to embrace the idea of fashion as an extension of inner beauty without sacrificing the brain cells required for us to think about things as serious as politics, or world events, the environment or the economy.

Speaking as a woman who is business savvy, aware of world events beyond Fashion Week and also able to flip through an issue of Vogue and appreciate pretty dresses, that mentality makes me ill. You'd think we'd have come far enough over the last century to not only be accepted as equals in pay to our male counterparts (ha. ha.) but that we could also be allowed to show our feminine sides while showing our intellect. A pox upon those who don't think that possible, and a stiletto heel up one side of their heads (insert name of smart-people-book clutched tightly in other hand while doing said walloping).

I searched a bit and not shockingly was unable to find a lot written about the fashion sense of CORETTA SCOTT KING. Not surprising, as she didn't have a stylist and didn't spend many days doing photo shoots. But as the woman who was the feminine counterpart to one of the great leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, MARTIN LUTHER KING Jr, many pictures were indeed taken of her and it goes without saying that she took care when going out to events to look her best. A beautiful woman within and out, Coretta spent much of her time while Reverend King was championing civil rights staying home with their 4 beautiful children. However, she did accompany him on many of his travels and spoke a bit herself. After his assassination she took a stronger leadership role in the movement, travelling the world and speaking on behalf of her slain husband about African American rights as well as the rights of other minorities. While much can be said about her influence on Black History, I will let these gorgeous pictures of her speak for themselves, revealing not only a strong, intelligent woman but one who had a very powerful sense of style, visible in moments of joy and tragedy.

There are no words for that last picture.


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