Today, black-owned barbershops play a central role in African American public life. The intimacy of commercial grooming encourages both confidentiality and camaraderie, which make the barber shop an important gathering place for African American men to talk freely.
But for many years preceding and even after the Civil War, black barbers endured a measure of social stigma for perpetuating inequality: though the profession offered economic mobility to black entrepreneurs, black barbers were obliged by custom to serve an exclusively white clientele.
In his book, Cutting Along the Color Line, Vassar History Professor Quincy Mills chronicles the cultural history of black barber shops as businesses and civic institutions.
Dr. Mills will give a public reading from the book on Thursday, Jan. 30, at 7:00 p.m. at The Hyde Park Free Library. For more information call 845-229-7791.
He will also participate in the Created Equal Series that the Poughkeepsie Library District is running in February. For more information call 845-485-3445 x3702 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.