Excerpted from a 2011 Profile in Amsterdam News
June (Ferandun) Terry is a dynamically creative senior who brings Black history to stylish life each day of the year. She’s worked for decades as a clothing designer, African fashion and textiles consultant and off-Broadway costumer and set designer. Her work as a costumer can currently be seen in the play “Know Thy Enemy.” An AP interview with Terry was aired last month in which she shared her reflections as she prepared to attend the inauguration of President Barack Obama.
You may have seen Terry around town–perhaps at a cultural or political function or out dancing with friends on a weeknight. At age 78, she gets around and turns heads wherever she goes, always dressed impeccably and crowned by her signature white afro. In fact, Terry made Black history as the first model to wear an Afro in a print publication (Ebony magazine, 1968). In 1970, Terry’s affinity for her heritage was acknowledged when she was given the name, “Ferandun” (meaning “love”) by Nana Yao Opare Dinizulu, a venerated African music, dance and religion pioneer here in New York.
Not everyone back then connected with Africa, and even among those who did, some declined to adopt an outward symbol of heritage such as the Afro or dashiki. Terry worked at many fashion shows where she was the lone person in traditional African garb. “Oh, it was something else!” she recalls. “There were a few instances where the other models refused to have me in the dressing room with them because my hair wasn’t pressed and I was wearing African clothes,” she says laughing. “And after all that, I’d usually get the loudest applause!”
Black women who did publicly embrace their culture were encouraged by Terry’s striking and tasteful presentation, her confidence and her pride. Black beauty was not celebrated on billboards or in television ads, so it was to women such as Cicely Tyson, Odetta, Rosalind Cash, Paula Kelly and June Terry that they turned for validation and inspiration.
|Costume Designer||The River Crosses Rivers: Short Plays by Women of Color||2009-10 Season|