State lawmakers introduce CROWN Act legislation

CHARLOTTE — The city of Charlotte is one of a handful of cities that prevent discrimination based on natural hairstyles. Lawmakers are proposing the expansion of the protections statewide.

Janelle Smith left her job at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools last year to work full-time at her business Loc N Love By Janelle.

“I get up every day and am so excited and so happy to make other women feel good about themselves and their hair,” she said.

She is passionate about natural hairstyles and hears heartbreaking stories from people about what they have gone through.

“It is a privilege to stand behind the chair and basically minister to women that are going through the discrimination,” she said.

State lawmakers are considering the CROWN Act. It would ban companies from denying employment or firing someone just because of their natural hair. State Sen. Natalie Murdock, D-Durham, is one of the sponsors.

“I think as legislators, we have to remember to also work on legislation that people can see themselves in that will really impact their lives,” Murdock said. “And to some folks, it’s just hair, but it’s not. This is something that really, really has been inspiring and impactful for so many North Carolinians.”

Smith is thankful for the protections in Charlotte and is praying they soon go statewide.

“When I think about it, I just feel goosebumps just to know that we don’t have to worry about the discrimination,” she said. “To have something in place, to protect Black people in the workplace and in the school is a blessing.”

In 2021, Gov. Roy Cooper issued an executive order banning state agencies from discriminating based on hairstyles.

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