Inspired by his race for the White House, Going-Natural.com offered President Obama the centerpiece of its exhibition “The Pursuit of Nappiness” as a gift for his birthday last year. The colorful framed portrait, chosen as a favorite during the exposition at the Casa Frela Gallery in Manhattan, shows a beautiful woman with a cheerful smile and a striking Afro.
Lurie Daniel-Favors, the woman pictured, is all but a stereotype beauty. While her dense afro strengthens her natural beauty, her resume underwrites her remarkable intellect. Daniel-Favors, a graduate from the New York University School of Law, was an associate at a well-known Law firm before founding the L.D Favors Law Group – a New York City practice with a partner. As a mother and a community organizer she also serves as the co-executive director of Sankofa Community Empowerment, Inc. (SCE), a non-profit to empower the racially and economically disenfranchised groups.
The picture was taken at the International African Arts Festival in Brooklyn, NY in July of 05 where Mireille Liong, founder of Going-Natural.com was shooting for what she calls her “Pursuit of Nappiness.” Intrigued by the outstanding coiffured heads she encountered at African American summer fairs, Liong started to photograph natural hairstyles in 04.
Lurie’s portrait was chosen for a number of reasons, Liong said. First, Lurie is beautiful and the afro is African hair at its best. Visitors of my exhibition clearly felt the same way but there are more historic and symbolic grounds behind my choice. The afro is a politicized style that came out of the civil rights era then dominated the fashion scene in the 70’s. It is the first hairstyle that ever allowed black women to take pride in their natural strands after believing for centuries that African hair was unacceptable.
Very much like the Afro, the community organizer Barack Obama stood for civil rights. As a candidate, his race for office was groundbreaking in so many ways, as was the Afro. The Afro left a lasing imprint on society and so will Barack Obama’s presidency. As the first black President, Barack Obama allowed African Americans to take pride in being an American on unprecedented levels after doubting for decades whether a Black man could ever be elected to the highest office.
There is also no better symbol than the afro to illustrate his campaign’s motto “Out of many we are one” that brought together so many different people from all walks of life, Liong continued. Like citizens of a nation, no two coils are the same but out of many uniquely shaped strands comes one powerful afro.
Nearly six months after sending the 20 by 24 framed birthday gift, Liong received a note of gratitude from the White House signed by First Lady Michelle Obama and the President. For more information about the photograph, Lurie Daniel-Favors and the Pursuit of Nappiness visit going-natural.com.