Out of the chains of slavery and the shackles of Jim Crow.
Out of minstrel images designed to keep us oppressed … “just so.”
There swelled a “Great Migration” from the south to the northern climes.
My people sought the promise of freedom, in search of better times.
Dreams were planted in Chicago, Detroit and even New York City.
But segregation was nationwide, so our outlook was dark and gritty.
So, we did what we had done, for the previous three hundred years.
We made the best of things, we are the race that perseveres.
So instead of wallowing in envy of the wealthy and their finer things,
Black designers turned self-image, into fashion wellsprings.
Throughout our history, we’ve worn fashion of African American design.
Expressing ourselves as art, through clothing “creatively intertwined.”
Barristers and bankers and sharks swimming through cards of chance.
All were clean and sharp in this fashion design of expanse.
Artists and fashion visionaries bound together by color of skin.
Produced clothing for the people and not the static mannequin.
~ Down through the years,we as a people looked … good! ~
Why the Cotton Club Dancers, might wear hats made of fruit.
While the dapper Cab Calloway, entertained in his zoot suit.
Zoot suit? Pants high-waisted, wide-legged under a long “dress jacket.”
Index finger pointing to the ground, yeaah buddy… that was the racket.
Covering our shoes, we might just wear spats.
Cuz even when poor, they made us look like diplomats.
We could wear socks called “thick and thins.”
While styling hats called “stingy brims.”
Sometimes through fashion we reached back to the motherland.
African patterned Kente cloth and dashikis, we were grand!
Why even our Black Panthers (of the 1960’s, not that superhero),
wore political statements of … ALL-BLACK! Even down to the afro.
Out of slavery, Sojourner Truth could wear a high-necked dress.
While politically and socially showed women to not acquiesce.
But when it comes to female elegance, Diana Rosswas the “Dream Supreme.”
Well … that was until First Lady Michelle Obama,showed SHE … is the “Evening Gown Queen.”
African American Fashion: Destined by Design.
Our clothing reflects the beat of who we are,
like a Bootsie Collins baseline.
Words by DaRell Pittman (Poet)