How Our Ancestors’ Crowns Became An Act Of Resistance And Signal To God

You feel that weight on your head? That’s your crown. Passed down to you by your ancestors. Don’t let anyone knock it off. Our crown holds our ancestral power, our battle cries disguised as prayer. So wear that crown with PRIDE.

How Our Ancestors’ Crowns Became An Act Of Resistance And Signal To God
Via Flickr

Our “crowns” have always been something our people decorated with pride. African women wove shells, cloth, gold, feathers, bones, and more into their intricate coils. Each design told a story.

West African women especially were known for their extravagant headwraps. But then slavery changed the narrative.

Enslavers, jealous of our beauty, forced our ancestors to shave their heads or wear dingy head coverings while toiling in the fields.

Decorating one’s crown became an act of resistance.

Enslaved Black women would gather whatever materials they could find and turn these scraps into beautiful headwraps. Not so flashy that it would get them into trouble, but just special enough to individualize them.

Sundays were especially sacred. Sunday was the one day they were allowed to be outlandish, so they dressed for the occasion.  

They made beautiful church hats, the bigger the better to “catch God’s eye” and have him hear their prayers for freedom.

Wearing elaborate church hats is a wearable artform still practiced today. Church hats represent the creativity, community, beauty, and joy our ancestors preserved.

Our crowns are still under attack. But we know it’s beautiful to be Black.

So get out your hats, ribbons, wraps, and beads. How can you decorate your crown in honor of the blessings you’re about to receive?

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