Kente And Black History

The vibrant colours of Kente cloth is used at and are associated with the African culture and heritage and it is also a symbol of the ethnic pride. This popular traditional cloth is native to Ghana and it also has got a value of strong spiritual and respect. However, this fabric is not meant for wearing for daily purposes but for important functions and celebrations. With the course of time and the available technology, it is now widely available, leading to the popularity Kente fashion. There is a strong link of this traditional fabric to the black history. To know more, this article will take a look at Kente fabric and black history.

The Kente Fabric and the strong link to the black history:

As Kente clothing is associated with the African heritage, to show a strong link to the African culture, the African Americans use the Kente fabric in various ways. This famous clothing is derived from the people of the Ashanti Empire and traditionally it was worn by only the royals and the society elites. It is extremely popular for the Black history month, provided the instant identification to the culture and heritage of Africa. The use of Kente cloth and the patterns and the prints made of the vibrant colours are found in the black history.

On will find out the vibrant fabric is not worn on a daily basis but only during the religious or any special ceremonies such as: graduation ceremony, marriage ceremony and also naming the child ceremony etc. The African American students wear Kente stole on top of their graduation gowns during the graduation ceremony. The colour of the Kente stole will differ according to the black fraternity or sorority or any other black organization the student is a member of.

Most of the African American turned their attention to the Kente cloth when the first ever Prime Minister of Ghana as an independent country wore this special cloth to meet Dwight D. Eisenhower, the President of the United States of America at the white house during 1958, after Ghana achieved independence on 1957.

The African Americans tend to associate this special cloth with the Ethic culture and Black politics. In the USA, during the beginning of 1970’s, with the Black political and cultural struggle, a long shirt similar to a tunic, known as Dashiki went on to become popular clothing in the fashion industry. It was a way of showing their freedom from the culture of the west. The dashikis became a staple for the Black life and more significance gained when it was adopted by the hip hop community during the 80’s. Wearing this cloth was also a sign of protest by the Blacks.

The idea of celebrating Kente commencement ceremony was introduced by Dr. Franklin Simpson, Jerome “Skip” Hutson, Dr. C. James Trotman and Dr. Christian Awuyah and this was done to recognize the honor the black students’ historical and personal struggle to complete the Bachelor’s degree. This took place at the West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Till the present time, thousands of graduates of the West Chester University have donned this famous ethic fabric stole over their graduation gown. This practice then slowly spread to the other universities, colleges and also to the high schools.


· Black history month fashions and their meanings by Susan Storm, February 01 2016,

· The history and the Significance of Kente cloth in the Black Diaspora, by James Padilioni Jr., May 22, 2017,

· Kente cloth- A way to celebrate Black history month by Wayne, February 6, 2010,