Wheeling passes the Crown Act

A step toward a more inclusive West Virginia

Delegate Danielle Walker should be commended for her tireless efforts in introducing the CROWN Act (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) year after year. Despite the lack of progress from the West Virginia Legislature as a whole, several cities, including Wheeling, are leading the way towards a more inclusive and diverse state by passing the CROWN Act. This bill, introduced as HB 2092 in 2023, outlines the prohibition of discrimination based on hairstyle or texture in schools, workplaces, and public spaces.

As the only Black woman serving in the West Virginia legislature, Walker is the bill’s dedicated lead sponsor. Despite its introduction, the bill has yet to progress in committee, leading advocates to call for support from Delegate Phillips and Delegate Capito to ensure its passage.

The CROWN Act has already been adopted as local ordinances in five West Virginia cities, with Wheeling being the latest to do so. City council members, human rights commissions, and organizations such as the NAACP are championing its adoption. Despite opposition from those who argue that it restricts dress codes and grooming policies, city council members firmly believe that passing this act aligns with the values of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and is the right thing to do.

Discrimination based on hair texture and style has a long history of being used to marginalize certain racial and cultural groups. The CROWN Act not only provides a crucial step towards creating a more equitable future for all in West Virginia, but also defines a new era of human rights laws against discrimination. This follows the lead of the 18 states and various municipalities that have already passed similar legislation.

On Feb. 15, supporters will gather for the Crown Rally as part of the Black Policy Agenda to voice their support for the CROWN Act. This legislation addresses systemic racism and promotes racial equality by providing legal protection for Black individuals who have faced discrimination based on their hair. It is a necessary step towards creating a more inclusive and respectful society for all West Virginians.

The passing of the CROWN Act in Wheeling and other cities in West Virginia signifies a major step towards a more inclusive future. However, the support of state lawmakers is critical in providing this protection for all citizens. It is time for West Virginia to join the growing number of states and municipalities that have already passed similar legislation and to take a stand against hair-based discrimination. The CROWN act is a defining moment in the ending of discrimination, establishing a new era of human rights laws.

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