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You can totally wrap your head around this event.

Cheyney McKnight, who is a “living historian,” will present Headwraps of African Women in America at King Manor Museum in Jamaica on Sunday, April 15, at 3 p.m.

McKnight, who runs the interpretation company Not Your Momma’s History, graduated from Simmons College in 2011 and immediately started researching slavery in the United States and teaching about it. Trained as per the National Association of Interpretation, she assumes the fashion, roles, and habits of slaves in the 18th and 19th centuries during some of her presentations. She doesn’t portray specific people the way an actor does, instead she offers a generalized role. (In some instances, McKnight shovels coal, does hearth cooking, sews, and rocks in a wooden chair.)

On Sunday, she will be dressed in a period outfit and she’ll display the different fabrics available to female slaves for attendees to touch and consider. She’ll also discuss how these cloths varied from region to region and how they projected age, religion, marital status, and even class.

Referred to as a “head rag,” “head tie,” and even a “head handkerchief” over the years, these distinctive fabrics were a paradoxical part of African-descendant women’s outfits throughout slavery. The cloth, tying, and covering styles (i.e. at the nape of the neck) originated in sub-Saharan Africa and were a tie to slaves’ heritage — while also being a stereotype of their captive reality. They also provided communal identity and an outlet to express fashion tastes as well as shelter from the sun, absorption of sweat, and protection from grime and lice.

Admission is free, and King Manor Museum is located inside Rufus King Park in the vicinity of 150th Street and Jamaica Avenue.

Rufus King (1755 to 1827) was the youngest signer of the U.S. Constitution, a senator, an ambassador to Great Britain, and a candidate for president. The museum is the house where his family lived from 1805 to 1896. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

Images: Not Your Momma’s History

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