Photo credits: Robert Abbott/Getty Images
Marjorie Stewart Joyner (pictured) invented the Permanent Wave Machine, which established her as a historic figure in cosmetology.
She collaborated on the state of Illinois’s first cosmetology regulations. Joyner also co-founded the United Beauty School Owners and Teachers Association in 1945 with Mary McLeod Bethune. Additionally, Joyner was involved in activism for the African American community. She raised money for black universities and fought race-based oppression with former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.
Marjorie Stewart Joyner was born in Monterey, Virginia, on October 24, 1896. She was the grandchild of a white male slave master and a black female slave. Joyner was born into poverty. At 16, she relocated to Chicago in 1912 to enroll in the A.B. Molar Beauty School. She graduated from the college in 1916 — becoming the first African American to do so. Marjorie married Robert E. Joyner shortly after graduating from beauty school, and the couple had two children.
Joyner founded a beauty salon on Chicago’s South State Street upon graduation. She met Madam C.J. Walker, an African American businesswoman who was the owner of a cosmetic empire, there. Joyner began working for Walker and eventually became the company’s national advisor, supervising 200 American beauty schools.
Joyner educated about 15,000 hairdressers throughout the course of her 50-year career. Joyner’s Permanent Wave Machine and a duplicate of her original salon were included in an exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington in 1987. At the age of 77, she earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach, Florida — fulfilling a longstanding desire.
At age 98, Marjorie Stewart Joyner passed away as a result of heart failure on December 7, 1994, inside her Chicago residence.
Reference: Weber, E. (2018, March 09). Marjorie Stewart Joyner (1896-1994). BlackPast.org. https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/joyner-marjorie-stewart-1896-1994/