For many Americans, this upcoming weekend is a celebration of the country’s independence from England—despite the persistent lack of freedoms afforded to marginalized people within this so-called liberated country’s confines. But for Black hair advocates, there’s another (and arguably better) Independence Day to celebrate this weekend, as July 3 marks the two-year anniversary of the signing of the CROWN Act, an acronym and movement intended to “Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.”
It’s been two-and-a-half years since former state Senator Holly J. Mitchell introduced the measure as Senate Bill 188 (SB 188), which expanded the definition of race in the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and Education Code “to ensure legal protection against race-based hair discrimination in workplaces and in K-12 public and charter schools.” Gov. Gavin Newsom subsequently signed the bill into law on July 3, 2019, making California the first state to ban hair discrimination of protective hairstyles and hair textures associated with race when the law went into effect on January 1, 2020.
Since its inaugural signing, 12 more states and 29 municipalities have followed suit by enacting the CROWN Act or laws inspired by the act; eight additional states have either pre-filed or filed to join the act, or have introduced their own anti-hair discrimination bills. Additionally, a federal bill was reintroduced in both chambers of Congress in March 2021, making National CROWN Day 2021 “an intergenerational experience to mobilize the Black community and allies to call on federal legislators to pass the CROWN Act in Congress,” according to a press release provided to The Glow Up.
More on National CROWN Day, via the release:
Presented by Dove and the CROWN Coalition, National CROWN Day, also known as Black Hair Independence Day, is back! National CROWN Day is a special holiday commemorating the inaugural signing of the first CROWN Act legislation in the United States in 2019 to “Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.” The July 3rd celebration will feature a full day of virtual events, including the inaugural CROWN AWARDS at 7:00 p.m. ET honoring Black women paving the way with contributions to culture, community, entrepreneurship, entertainment and the advancement of Black beauty.
As a founding member of The CROWN Coalition, Dove has championed The CROWN Act movement, created and driven by a team of Black women leaders working with a village of women who share a desire to end discrimination including Esi Eggleston Bracey and Erin Goldson of Dove, Los Angeles County Supervisor, Holly J. Mitchell, and JOY Collective agency leaders, Kelli Richardson Lawson, Orlena Nwokah Blanchard and Adjoa B. Asamoah as lead legislative strategist.
“I am so pleased that Dove and the CROWN Coalition have inspired a movement with such significant impact across the country, and I am grateful for the army of support working tirelessly to end hair discrimination,” said Esi Eggleston Bracey, executive vice president and chief operating officer of North America Beauty and Personal Care at Unilever, parent company of Dove, in a statement. “Within two years, we’ve successfully passed legislation in 13 states, introduced a federal bill, grown our CROWN Coalition to over 80 powerful organizations, and exceeded our petition signatures with over 265,000 people joining our movement.
“Dove has always stood for beauty inclusivity and rejects social injustice of any kind, and we now must focus on the work needed to achieve the next major victory—passing the federal bill to protect Black women, men and children nationwide,” she concluded.
Now in its second year, Dove is joined in The CROWN Coalition by the National Urban League, Western Center on Law & Poverty, and Color Of Change. Together, they are presenting a “a 7-day countdown of virtual engagement and community connections leading up to CROWN Day, which will feature a day of activations including the inaugural CROWN Awards.”
The festivities kicked off at Sunday’s BET Awards with a special CROWN Act moment with actress and influencer, Tabitha Brown. On Monday, June 28, acclaimed Washington, D.C. muralist Candice Taylor will begin a custom CROWN Act-inspired mural in the nation’s capital, which she will complete by week’s end. Per the release, the virtual events for National CROWN Day on Saturday will include:
• An All Day Social Storm with ‘THE MY CROWN IS…” Photo App, Petition, and Social
• 10:30 am/ET - Get Up and CROWN the Day Wellness Workout
• 11:00 am/ET - CROWN Mural Unveiling in Nation’s Capital
• 7:00 pm/ET - The Inaugural CROWN Awards
• 8:30 pm/ET - “Recognizing Black Women – Legends, Icons, and Young CROWNS”
The inaugural CROWN Awards will highlight the extraordinary strength, grace and perseverance of notable Black women, whether at the forefront or behind the scenes of change, whose talents and leadership help advance the legacy of Black beauty and brilliance. The Legend CROWNS will celebrate honorees 50 and older; Iconic CROWNS will spotlight recipients ages 30-50; and Young CROWNS will highlight winners who are 30 and under. Award categories range from art and business, to music, sports and the champions of The CROWN Act legislation. The awards ceremony will be followed by the CROWN After Dark After Party
The Meena Harris-founded Phenomenal is also recognizing National CROWN Day—in fact, make that CROWN Month. The female-driven media brand and creative agency is celebrating and extending the day to the entire month of July with a limited-edition shirt, conversation series, compelling video and more, according to a press release sent to The Glow Up:
Phenomenal has inspired change for over four years, and this CROWN Month it’s encouraging Black women to reclaim their hairstory and celebrate their crown...Phenomenal has partnered with Bephies Beauty Supply to release a limited-edition tee commemorating iconic Black hairstyles and champion women to be unapologetic and proud in however they choose to wear their hair, regardless of workplace or social norms.
“At Phenomenal, we’re so passionate about untangling hair bias that we’re celebrating CROWN Day all month,” said Harris in an exclusive statement to Women’s Wear Daily. “And I do mean celebrating—because there is power in wearing natural and textured hair proudly, unapologetically.”
The limited edition tee ($110) is available for preorder today, June 28 on both Phenomenal’s platform and at Nordstrom. Sienna Naturals is also joining the celebration via a conversation series while Hayden5 has partnered with Phenomenal to produce a campaign video directed by JJ Anderson, “which is aimed at shifting culture and dialogue around textured hair beyond anti-discrimination, to represent respect and freedom,” per the press release.
“Your hair is your crown,” Bephies Beauty Supply founder Beth Birkett told WWD. “For centuries, Black communities around the world have created hairstyles that are uniquely their own—from box braids to Bantu knots and Afro shape ups. These iconic Black hairstyles nod to status and are symbols of feminine power. With this collaboration, we feature Black hair iconography representing royalty and encourage everyone to own their own crown.”
To join The CROWN Act movement and help #PASSTHECROWN to end race-based hair discrimination in the U.S., you can signing the petition at www.thecrownact.com.