South Fulton passes act for Black men, women to wear natural hairstyles at work

SOUTH FULTON, Ga. — For decades, Black men and women have been told they can’t wear their natural hair at work because it’s “unprofessional." Some workplaces had even banned certain hairstyles.

The City of South Fulton voted this week to change that in their city. Channel 2′s Tyisha Fernandes spoke with some South Fulton residents who wondered why the resolution took so long.

“It’s a necessity for us to be able to express ourselves in whatever way possible,” said Dr. Emily Davis, a veterinarian in metro Atlanta.

For Davis, it’s hard to imagine that her hair would be considered “unprofessional” if she didn’t straighten it. Many natural hairstyles for Black men and women like braids, afros and lox have been banned from workplaces.

“They’re just expecting us to fit into their criteria of what beauty is and what professional is,” she said.

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South Fulton city councilmember Mark Baker is the one who brought the issue to a council vote with a CROWN Act ordinance.

The CROWN Act stands for Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair. The act says that businesses can no longer dictate what’s a “professional hairstyle” for Black men and women.

The council voted yes on the resolution during Tuesday’s meeting. It is something that Davis is glad to see happen.

“There are many people of Caucasian descent and I don’t think their hair is beautiful – but that doesn’t mean I have the right to tell them they can’t wear it a certain way,” Davis said. “I’m very happy its something that’s being put into place and also somewhat disappointed that it."

Cities across the country, including Atlanta, have looked at similar CROWN Act ordinances. Earlier this year, State Rep. Kim Schofield (D-Atlanta) introduced a statewide CROWN act legislation. In Dec. 2019, similar legislation was introduced in the both chambers of the U.S. Congress.