One year ago, California became the first state to pass a law banning discrimination based on natural hairstyles.
The CROWN or “Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair” Act is a law in seven states, including Washington.
To commemorate, July 3 has been declared National CROWN Day.
”I feel like it's unfortunate that we have to create laws to protect our bodies in our natural selves,” said Cinnamon Brown, a natural hair advocate.
Brown says rocking her natural hair at work is freeing.
"Before I wore locks, I would wear braids or I was a curly natural, and told that I need to straighten my hair or, you know, being harassed about, asking me if my hair is clean,” said Brown.
Brown joined Representative Melanie Morgan (D-Parkland) at the state capitol in January to introduce a state bill that would prohibit discrimination based on hair texture and protective styles.
Current state law prohibited discrimination for race, religion, and sexual orientation.
Morgan’s bill, HB 2602, amends the section covering race to include “hair texture and protective hairstyles.”
”The Black codes are still in place. And that's my job as a representative is to go back and start dismantling those,” said Rep. Morgan.
Washington's ban on hair discrimination went into effect July 1.
”We were basically to pretend like we weren't Black and make everything else look White,” said Morgan.
Rep. Morgan says the legislation is deeply rooted in American history, going back to the Reconstruction Era.
”In order to get employment, you had to look the part, otherwise you would not be hired, and you would be arrested under the Black code of the vagrant law,” said Morgan.
Now 23 states have introduced CROWN legislation.