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On this date, Marjorie Stewart Joyner was born in 1896. She was a Black businesswoman and humanitarian.
Born in Monterey in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains, she moved to Chicago as a child, studying cosmetology as a teenager. She became associated with the beauty expert Madam C.J. Walker who had been made famous by Josephine Baker's adoption of her products. Marjorie Stewart Joyner had a strong message throughout her life: "Be proud of who you are and treat yourself as if you care." From this strong belief, she became an avid supporter of young men and women throughout her life.
Joyner became an inventor and an educator in African American beauty culture. While a cosmetologist, she was frustrated that the day after having their hair done, most women looked like "an accident going someplace to happen." She invented the permanent wave machine that would allow a hairdo to stay set for days, if not more. According to Anne MacDonald, "This was a dome-shaped device that applied electrical current to pressed and clamped one-inch sections of hair, creating a hairdo that would last a considerable time." In 1928, Joyner became the first Black woman to receive a patent for an invention, and this opened the door for many others. Joyner never received any money for her invention, but she did move up in the business world of beauty.
She became the director of C.J. Walker's nationwide chain of beauty schools. She also co-founded, with Mary Mcleod Bethune, the United Beauty School Owners and Teachers Association in 1945. She was always committed to helping people. During the Depression, she worked for several of the New Deal programs to find housing and work for young Blacks. She consistently worked to instill pride in the young people she worked with. In pursuit of this goal, she worked for years to raise money for Black colleges and chaired the Bud Billiken Parade, the largest African American parade in the United States, for over 50 years.
She is often called the "Grand Dame of Black Beauty Culture" and the "Godmother of Bethune-Cookman College." Marjorie Stewart Joyner died on December 27, 1994, in Chicago.
Black Women in America An Historical Encyclopedia
Volumes 1 and 2, edited by Darlene Clark Hine
Copyright 1993, Carlson Publishing Inc., Brooklyn, New York