"Black is Beautiful!" The words were the exuberant rallying cry of a generation of black women who threw away their straightening combs and adopted a proud new style they called the Afro. The Afro, as worn most famously by Angela Davis, became a veritable icon of the Sixties. Although the new beauty standards seemed to arise overnight, they actually had deep roots within black communities. Tracing her story to 1891, when a black newspaper launched a contest to find the most beautiful woman of the race, Maxine Leeds Craig documents how black women have negotiated the intersection of race, class, politics, and personal appearance in their lives. Craig takes the reader from beauty parlors in the 1940s to late night political meetings in the 1960s to demonstrate the powerful influence of social movements on the experience of daily life. With sources ranging from oral histories of Civil Rights and Black Power Movement activists and men and women who stood on the sidelines to black popular magazines and the black movement press, Ain't I a Beauty Queen? will fascinate those interested in beauty culture, gender, class, and the dynamics of race and social movements.
"The first Miss Black America pageant was a demonstration that existed by 1968 between the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. It celebrated black women by berating an all-black contest while maintaining that its goal was to protest the exclusionary practices of the Miss America pageant. "- Dr. Maxine Leeds Craig, Professor at the University of California, Davis, Author of Ain't I a Beauty Queen
Maxine Craig is Professor in the Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies program at the University of California, Davis. She received her doctorate in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley. She studies social formations of gender and race through qualitative studies of everyday embodied practices. Her book, Sorry I Don’t Dance: Why Men Refuse to Move (Oxford University Press), was awarded the 2014 Best Publication Award given by the American Sociological Association’s section on Body and Embodiment. Her book, Ain’t I a Beauty Queen? Black Women, Beauty, and the Politics of Race. (Oxford University Press) won the Best Book of 2002 award on the Political History of Ethnic and Racial Minorities in the U.S by the Section on Race, Ethnicity, and Politics of the American Political Science Association. She is the Chair Elect of the Body and Embodiment Section of the American Sociological Association. She is affiliated with the Cultural Studies, Performance Studies, and Sociology graduate groups.