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Celebrating World Afro Day with new hair exhibit at Kent State University

'Textures: The history and art of Black hair' runs through early August of next year.

KENT, Ohio — Wednesday is World Afro Day, a global day of change, education and celebration of Afro hair, culture and identity.

"Afros are who we are, so it's pretty much take it or leave it," Tameka Ellington said.

Press it, perm it, braid it, twist it: No matter how you rock it, Black women have always used their hair as a personal expression to showcase who they are.

"It's important that people are able to understand natural hair and accept it so that people who want to wear their natural hair can feel comfortable wearing it," Tameka said.

Ellington and Joseph Underwood are the curators at the new Textures exhibit at Kent State University, which documents the history of Black hair in America.

"We wanted to have it in a space where people can be educated and where we can build a bridge and see Black beauty as human," Ellington explained.

Underwood is one that helps bridge the gap encouraging those tough conversations.

"I think of myself as a mediator," he said. "I'm not driving the conversation, but it's all of our responsibility to learn."

Textures includes over 80 pieces of art, including the famous FBI Wanted poster of Anglea Davis.

"She's a legend in history and still rocking a version of her afro today," Tameka noted.

Myra Chandler, a DMV cosmetologist, has been rooted in the hair industry for 18 years and says there's nothing quite like it.

"I just love it," she said. "I love doing hair and getting excited about the next style, so for me, hair is life. It sets us apart and lets you be who you are."

Textures is open at the Kent State Museum from now through early August of 2022.