With Juneteenth hitting the national radar this year, I think it’s finally safe for us to give up all pretense of actually celebrating America’s independence (gained while we were still enslaved), and instead enjoy a long weekend full of socially distanced, dutifully masked fun! (Besides, we’ve already had our fill of fireworks, no?) But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to celebrate this weekend: On July 3, we can celebrate the first annual National CROWN Day, commemorating the one-year anniversary of the signing of the inaugural CROWN Act in California by Governor Gavin Newsome.
As stated in a release sent to The Glow Up:
The CROWN Coalition, a national alliance founded by Dove, National Urban League, Western Center on Law & Poverty, and Color Of Change is declaring July 3, 2020 as National CROWN Day; the 1-year anniversary of the signing of The CROWN Act in California. The groundbreaking legislation, sponsored by the Coalition, was first introduced by Senator Holly J. Mitchell in January 2019 and signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom on July 3, 2019. National CROWN Day will be a day of solidarity for the human rights of Black men, women and children to wear their natural hair boldly and proudly, without the fear of being discriminated against in school or the workplace. The one-day celebration will feature a full day of virtual conversations and people are encouraged to #PassTheCrown and sign the petition to end hair-based discrimination at thecrownact.com.
“Dove has always stood for beauty inclusion and rejects social injustice of any kind,” stated Esi Eggleston Bracey, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of North America Beauty and Personal Care at Unilever. “We are proud to have inspired a movement with significant impact, but we still have work to do. The CROWN Act has passed in 7 states and has been introduced in over 20 additional states and at the federal level. We know that hair discrimination is just one form of racial discrimination and we are determined to help bring about systemic change to eradicate racism in all its forms.”
For its part, Dove has created the CROWN Fund, pledging $5 million in ongoing financial support. ‘We know funding is not enough, which is why we are taking action with our Coalition partners to advance legislative change,” says Eggleston Bracey.
To date, the CROWN Act, which stands for “Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair,” has been passed into law in 7 states (Calif., N.Y., N.J., Va., Colo., Wash., Md.) and 2 municipalities (Cincinnati, Ohio and Montgomery County, Md.), providing legal protections against race-based hair discrimination in workplaces and schools. The CROWN Act or similar protections are being considered in 9 additional states (Del., Ill., Mass., Mich., Neb., Ohio, Pa., R.I., and S.C.). The Act has also been introduced in fifteen (15) additional states (Ala., Ariz., Conn., Fla., Ga., Kan., Ky., La., Minn., Mo., Miss., Ore., Tenn., W.Va., and Wis.), but weren’t moved through before the legislative sessions ended. But promisingly, federal legislation was introduced in December 2019 by Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.).
What’s more, the CROWN Coalition is now expanding its focus to dismantle systemic racism beyond combating discrimination against those of us who choose to wear afros, locks, braids, twists or other traditionally Black hairstyles. In fact, CROWN is slightly changing its hair-based acronym to stand for “Creating a Respectful and Open World with No Racism.”
“The Coalition will be broadening its efforts by working to advance legislation and social change on more issues of bias and discrimination, as well as issues of public safety, voter suppression, and economic equity,” the statement reads.
In addition to founding members Dove, National Urban League, Color Of Change and Western Center on Law and Poverty, supporting members of the CROWN Coalition include a veritable who’s who of labor, social and racial justice organizations, historically African-American Greek-lettered sororities and many more, including (in no particular order): several affiliates of the ACLU; NAACP and NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc.; Black Women’s Roundtable; National Association of Black Psychologists; Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, Sigma Gamma Rho, and Zeta Phi Beta Sororities, Inc; African American Mayors Association; Jack and Jill of America, Inc.; The Links, Inc.; Curly Girl Collective; and Women in Public Policy, Inc.
Let’s just say our first National CROWN Day cookout is gonna be lit—and we’ll be wearing our hair exactly as we please, so #PassTheCrown. To learn more about the CROWN Act and support the cause, visit their website.