Updated: Oct 18, 2019
In 1967, Jason Benning coined the modern term Dashiki. The term originates from the combination of the Yoruba word “danski,” and the Hausa phrase “dan aki,” both which translate to shirt. Benning began to mass produce the dashiki style shirt out of Harlem, USA under the trademark “New Breed Clothing, Ltd.” Benning along with Milton Clarke, Howard Davis, and William Smith created an afro-centric aesthetic of the Black PowerMovement. The shirt rebelled against the fashions of the times and provided a symbol of affirmation for blacks, signaling a return to Africa’s roots and an insistence of full rights in American society. The legacy of slavery paired with the fight for social equality was channeled into the politics of dressing the body to symbolize racial consciousness. Dashikis are still worn today in protest of society’s blatant disrespect of black lives. The dashiki still serves as a garment that embraces African heritage while seeking to promote black pride.