By Rebecca S. Jones
“I want you to understand that your first duty is to humanity. I want others to look at us and see that we care not just about ourselves but about others.” Sarah Breedlove, who later became known to the world as Madam C.J. Walkeronce made this selfless expression. She secured an irreplaceable seat in history when she became the first female self-made millionaire and one of the most successful African-American entrepreneurs in the country. Beauty was her field of expertise and she left a remarkable legacy within the industry. Undoubtedly, her message of support and compassion did not fall on deaf ears, for City Wide Beauticians & Barbers Association – CWBBAwas established as a local union to aid, teach, support and inspire beauty professionals within the community.
During the segregated era of American history, many African-Americans found refuge in the world of cosmetology. The field provided many women with an employment opportunity which extended beyond hard labor and the more common warehouse facilitated jobs. Cosmetology trained and educated students with skills to develop a lucrative trade.
As time progressed, African-American women evolved professionally and began marketing hair dress and tonics. However, the emergence of Jim Crow laws presented obstacles for African-Americans, insomuch that it was virtually impossible to attain business loans to expand their services. Nonetheless, such challenges created a culture of self-reliance and unity within the Black community. Understanding these factors helps to add value and significance to the importance of the inception of schools like Franklin Beauty School.
Franklin Beauty School and James Hudson Jemison, Sr. – Founder, CWBBA
The Franklin School of Beauty first opened in 1917 by Nobia Franklin, who began selling beauty supplies and products out of her house. Initially, the school was based in Chicago. After the passing of Franklin her business affairs became the responsibility of her daughter Abbieand son-in-law, James Hudson Jemison, Sr.
In 1935, the couple along with their three children Nobia Anita, James, Jr.and Ronaldrelocated to Houston. Subsequently, the Franklin School of Beauty closed its doors in Chicago and opened in Houston. With the savvy J.H. Jemison, Sr. serving as president, the school quickly became a success story for African-American cosmetology students. In 1971, Jemison opened Franklin Beauty School No. 2 and retired, leaving business operations under the leadership of his son, Ronald.
In addition to operating Franklin Beauty School, Jemison became a well-known civil rights leader, whose work led to the desegregation of city parks and golf courses in Houston. Other accomplishments he achieved included: appointment by Texas Governor Dolph Briscoeto the Texas Cosmetology Commission in 1974; served as the first president of the Houston Business and Professional Men’s Club and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People-NAACP Youth Council; first African-American board member of the Metropolitan Young Men’s Christian Association -YMCA and first elected “Bronze Mayor of Houston” by the African-American community. After donating 200 acres to the Girl Scouts of America with three business partners, Camp Robinwood was established for all Girl Scouts regardless of race. In honor of his commitment to the Houston Girl Scouts, the organization named a district after him, the “James H. Jemison District.”
City Wide Beauticians &
In 1943, J.H. Jemison, Sr. along with other Black cosmetologists founded City Wide Beauticians Associationas a resource guide and networking tool for local African-American beauty students. Though there were many barriers which existed for African-Americans, the organization provided a source of aid for aspiring professionals in the industry. It was established through Texas Beauty Culturists’ League #47which is a member of the National Beauty Culturists’ League. Through the years, the association has been a staple in the Black beauty community. Four years ago, the organization extended its reach to include barbers and is now known as City Wide Beauticians & Barbers Association.
Dr. Doris Whitaker
Three-time, past-President Dr. Doris Whitaker, who served during the mid to late 80s, offered words on the effectiveness of CWBBA. She said, “To me, the association has been a bridge builder for aspiring cosmetologists and those individuals who wanted to go to school and needed some assistance or just couldn’t afford to go. In such cases, we were there to lend a helping hand and give them some assistance in the areas that was needed to get them in the industry to become licensed, so that they could provide for themselves and their families. It has truly been a blessing to so many people. Many mothers have raised their children and got them through school by working in the beauty shop.”
She continued, “We have just tried to work and be consistent and build on what was established; we have been able to award scholarships to many deserving people – some members and some not.” While Dr. Whitaker remains confident in the association’s success over the years; she concluded, “After you lose so many senior members and they are not replenished, you lose out.”
Wide Beauticians &
Since taking office as President of CWBBA, Earker Coleman has continued the legacy of excellence the organization has operated under. For a brief period, the association experienced difficulty stemming from the lack of recruiting a younger demographic to keep the potency of the organization alive. Therefore, she has dedicated her first year to building a solid membership base and creating a renewed sense of financial stability. As a result, CWBBA has more than doubled its active membership and is adding new members daily.
President Coleman said, “We as a people are great as hair stylists and barbers, we are great and creative people in a lot of instances; but, we are not always the best of business people. So, to be that catalyst that helps us bridge the gap between building careers and strong businesses is a goal we are working on.”
To that regard, the association is seeking to incorporate other business-related items into its functions such as: a code of ethics and professionalism, liability and disability insurance and IRAs and 401k plans for members. The president spends time networking on social media, sending out newsletters to keep the public informed of their efforts and regularly attends the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation – TDLR meetings in Austin. “TDLR governs us and I try to attend meetings as much as possible to ensure we are getting the proper information and to make sure we are not reactive to the laws pertaining to the industry,” she added.
Continuing she shared, “It is my hope that we can be a catalyst and a resource for people within the beauty industry. Because we are so scattered and individualized that it makes it a little more difficult for us to do things and influence laws and legislation regarding the things that affect our careers; so, we need to come together with one voice because there is power in numbers.”
Aware of the need to network with other cultures, the president has been recruiting individuals from varying ethnicities to become a part of the association. Furthermore, CWBBA hosts quarterly educational classes and have been doing other events to let the public know they are viable and seeking to do business with and for the community in a different way. Although new implementations are being incorporated into the organization’s design, CWBBA still carries out its original initiatives set in place by founders.
Most recently, CWBBA held its 75th Annual Scholarship luncheon at the Buffalo Soldiers Museum located at 3816 Caroline, 77044. Mr. José Griñan served as the Master of Ceremony and Mr. Matthew Knowles was the keynote speaker. The theme for the event was, “Honoring Our Legacy – Living in Present Preparing for the Future.” A few of the sponsors included: Prospect Park, Houston Birthing, Razor Sharp and Frazier & Mitchell Funeral Home. This year’s scholarship luncheon was a success as recipients were selected based off of an essay submission detailing why they were deserving of the scholarship. A total of $2500 worth of scholarships was awarded to winners to assist in cosmetology-related expenses.
Additionally, CWBBA embraces its strong history and link in the African-American community. The association was amongst one of the first NAACP memberships in the local Houston chapter. Annually, the organization partners with different agencies and participates in a Back to School supply drive for area students. During the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, members also volunteered at the George R. Brown Convention Center and serviced residents affected by the storm.
President, Earker Coleman, Owner of Beauty Under
One Roof – BUOR
Earker Colemanis a native Houstonian. She retained membership with CWBBA over 30 years ago after graduating from Franklin Beauty School. At that time, she was working at a beauty salon of the organization’s then-President. Upon becoming a member, Coleman remained active and involved in the different fundraising functions and facets of the organization. Over time, as an emerging professional she felt she was no longer getting everything she needed to advance her career. Therefore, she ventured out with a few others and established another association. Though it eventually dissolved, she continued to work as a licensed hair stylist and cosmetology instructor. She later, became a sales and marketing agent for different businesses in the industry. Her final position in the corporate environment was with a hair color company, where she was responsible for managing and training professionals in the Southern United States. After dedicating an extensive amount of time in the field, she desired to share and teach the useful and informative resources she retained with others from her community.
Besides serving as president of the association, Coleman owns and operates Beauty Under One Roof – BUOR, a consulting firm and beauty magazine. BUOR News Mag is designed for the “trend-conscious consumer looking for the latest in beauty, hair and fashion.” It is a monthly free publication which produces breaking news, inspirational and entertaining articles for its audience. BUOR’s goal is to provide information suitable to assist readers with defining and exploring their inner and outer beauty.
Additionally, she is known throughout the community for hosting numerous workshops, skill classes and an annual beauty trade show.
BUOR will host its 8th Annual Beauty Trade Show on October 28, at the Houston Marriot-Westchase located at 2900 Briarpark. For more information about the show visit the company website at http://www.buorlive.com/or call (832) 303-1583.
CWBBA is a membership-driven organization. For those seeking to support, professional, student and affiliate memberships are available for interested parties. However, donations are welcomed and accepted by the general public. CWBBA clubhouse is located at 3903 Tolnay Street, 77021. Monthly meetings are held every first Monday of the month at the clubhouse.
For more information and/or details, or to become a member visit the website at https://cwbba.weebly.com/, call (832) 303-1583 or follow them on Facebook at City Wide Beauticians & Barbers Association.
About: National Beauty
In 1919, R.V. Randolph, S.L. Latimer, E.R. Cargel, M. Paris and B. Tollivercame together with the common idea of improving conditions in the cosmetology industry. On March 30th, 1940, the National Beauty Culturists’ League, Inc. (NBCL) was chartered as a non-profit organization. Since then, the League has dedicated time and energy towards fulfilling the following purposes set forth by founders to: establish high standards of conduct and operation; encourage scientific methods of hair, scalp and skin treatment; gather, prepare and disseminate educational information; seek legislation beneficial to the beauty profession; promote goodwill and cooperative effort among all beauticians, manufacturers, and persons engaged in related fields; and promote the general welfare and raise the public image of those engaged in the beauty culture field.
NBCL’s strength is within the links that bind the organization together. With a comprehensive approach towards building a unified program; it is the only organization with a professional degree program in Cosmetology.
Currently, it is comprised of an ever-growing membership within varying states, as well as the Caribbean. For nearly a century, NBCL has led the way in the multicultural beauty revolution by offering an array of tools that make it safe for professionals to better service their ethnic clients.
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