Sonny Rollins wore a Mohawk hairstyle long before punk rock co-opted the look as a fashion statement. Sonny first wore it in 1959, and intermittently in the 60s. Sonny wore the hairstyle to acknowledge the suffering of Native Americans, and drew parallels with the plight of African Americans.
Although he is rarely recognized for it, Sonny infused social commentary and American race relations into his music. It was why he wrote Freedom Suite. Many people don’t know the history or cultural significance of the song. It was the catalyst for albums like “We Insist! Freedom Now Suite" by Max Roach and other socially conscious jazz songs and albums. The message spread to other African American music genres.