We typically associate the early jeans of mainstream jeans with gold miners, James Dean, Elvis, and the Grease. But as it turns out, it was Martin Luther King’s March on Washington that really gave denim a boost into everyday wear.
During the march, many African Americans wore dark blue overalls in solidarity with sharecroppers who often wore them to work in the fields, Racked explains. Slave owners dressed their slaves in denim because it was sturdy and to separate them visually from their plantation families.
For that reason, many African Americans post-slavery, including James Brown, refused to wear denim because of its unpleasant ties to slavery. Read more at Racked.