1001 Black Men–#356

I think African American ministers of traditionally Black churches have an aesthetic all their own. The vocal aesthetic of Black ministers is widely known, but there is also a visual aesthetic–a style of dress, of hair, of accessories and comportment–that is a system all its own. In traditionally Black churches, the ministers’ aesthetic seems to combine the trappings of practicality–the two- or three-piece suit, the necktie, and dress shoes–with a stylistic flair that might seem to smack of vanity and ostentatiousness. This flair often expresses itself in hair styles–like a grand pair of sideburns, a jheri curl, or a permanent relaxer (think Al Sharpton). Sometimes it expresses itself in clothing, like  festively colored suits or accessories, stylish shoes or boots, and outrageous jewelry.

The man in this drawing is wearing a 1970s Blaxploitation-style haircut complete with sideburns. The big tie knot is a little bit of an indication of his style-consciousness. The photo that I incorporated into the lower part of his gown depicts Black women choir members marching into their church in mid-century New York City.

Ajuan Mance

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