City of Beckley, West Virginia CROWN Ordinance Supporters Commemorate the Passing of Ending Hair Discrimination Within City Limits

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Progressive city in West Virginia takes a stand to increase protections of the existing nondiscrimination order in a Republican supermajority county and state.

Ordinance supporter Thaddaus Breckenridge states, “This hair is our experience and everything we’ve lived through.”

City of Beckley CROWN Ordinance Supporters Commemorate the Passing of Ending Hair Discrimination Within City Limits

In the fight for racial equality on May 11, 2021, the City of Beckley became the second municipality in West Virginia to pass a CROWN ordinance. The acronym stands for Create a Respectful and Open Workspace for Natural Hair and bans hair discrimination based on hair styles and textures. To continue the celebration of the ordinance passing, on May 15, 2021, the group met for a photo shoot showing their natural hair in all its glory.

Beckley Human Rights Commissioner Dr. Kristi Williams Dumas states, “This ordinance is of profound importance. It represents the city taking a stand against race-based hair discrimination by extending protections to include hair state, styles, and texture to the nondiscrimination order. It sends the strong message that every lived experience of discrimination is important and will not be tolerated henceforth.”

This is a huge win for the City of Beckley as the statewide West Virginia CROWN Act (Senate Bill 850) was rejected by the House Judiciary Committee in 2020. Had the bill passed, it would be illegal to discriminate against a person for their hair texture or hair style, which includes protective styles commonly worn in the black community such as dreadlocks, twists, afros, and braids. The uniqueness of the ordinance passage here lies in the demographics of the group of organizers and vocal supporters. Young, older, LGBTQ, trans, African American, and Caucasian individuals make up the group which is nestled in the mountains of a city boasting the value of human rights.

The community supporters of Beckley CROWN Ordinance gathered on the Beckley Council Chambers front lawn during the remote city council meeting to show their support.

Ordinance supporter Thaddaus Breckenridge states, “This hair is our experience and everything we’ve lived through.”

Bills banning hair discrimination have been introduced in numerous U.S. states through the CROWN Act, which was created by Dove and the CROWN Coalition in 2019. According to Dove Crown Research Study 2019 – Black women are 1.5x more likely to be sent home from the workplace because of their hair and 80% of black women compared to white women change their hair from its natural state to fit in at the workplace.

“The ordinance doesn’t affect me personally. I have white hair. I would never be discriminated against for my hair. But it is important to our city and residents. Human rights are basic rights,” said ordinance supporter Dr. Melissa J. Keaton.

The supporters of the Beckley CROWN Ordinance are hoping the State of West Virginia will reconsider supporting the CROWN Act but in the meantime, they are delighted to know they are safe from hair discrimination within the City of Beckley.

Contact:
Kristi Williams Dumas
City of Beckley Human Rights Commissioner
(310) 242-1447

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