The CROWN Act has yet to pass in Louisiana’s state legislature


Hannah Renton

Photo Illustration

Arianna Blakely, Copy Editor

On Aug. 20, 2018, then 11-year-old Faith Fennidy was sent home from Christ the King Middle School in Terrytown, Louisiana, for wearing a braided ponytail.
“My principal pulled me out of class and told me I had to call my mom to go home because I had not taken out my braids,” she said.
Extensions, wigs, and hair pieces were prohibited, according to a newer edition of the school’s parent-student handbook at the time, a rule that the Fennidy family was never made aware of.
“My mom had a meeting with the principal. They explained the importance of braids, why they’re important to me and my culture,” Faith Fennidy said. “My principal still decided she was going to stand by the rule.”
Faith’s older brother, Steven Fennidy, recorded the viral video that sent this story nationwide, prompting criticism towards the school and starting a larger conversation around Black hair.
“I asked the principal, ‘What issue is braids causing?’ She couldn’t give me an answer,” Steven Fennidy said. “That’s when we felt it was racially motivated.”
That was Faith Fennidy’s last day on campus.
Hair discrimination in schools and in the workplace is phasing out, as legislation is being put in place to end it.
The CROWN Act, which stands for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair,” is a law prohibiting race-based discrimination on the basis of hair. This includes the denying of educational or employment opportunities due to hair texture or protective styling choices.
The law, which was introduced on July 3, 2019, by California Senator Holly J. Mitchell, has currently passed in 13 states and 30 cities nationwide. Louisiana is yet to be one of them.
Charisse Gibson, an Emmy Award-winning news anchor and reporter at WWL-TV in New Orleans, is no stranger to having her hair be the main topic of conversation over her work.
“For me, I went into it hearing from mentors of mine that in order to stay in someone’s good graces, I needed to keep sort of a professional look,” she said. “I would have to straighten my hair, sew it in, relax it, do whatever I can to fit the status quo.”
When Gibson had to quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she developed the courage to experiment with her hair as an act of advocacy for Black women in the workplace.
“I think quarantine was an opportunity to really act on some things I’ve always wanted to do,” she said. “I have had every single hairstyle you can think of. I had braids, crochet, weaves, sew-ins, wigs. I’ve let it be curly and long. I’ve chopped it all off. I’ve run the gamut of hairstyles.”
Faith Fennidy promotes Black hair knowledge as a freshman at Metairie Park Country Day School. As one of five Black freshman girls on campus, she and members of the school’s Black Student Union hold presentations for students of all ages to teach them about microaggressions, appropriate compliments to give, the cultural significance of Black hairstyles, and the CROWN Act.
“I have so many ideas already for what we’re going to be doing next. Field trips, educational videos, stuff we can do on campus. I also want to work with other schools’ Black student unions,” Faith Fennidy said.
Steven Fennidy believes that Faith’s outreach now will prevent discriminatory rules from being made in schools down the line.
“That’s stuff they don’t know about. If they don’t ask, they’ll never know. If Faith can get into schools now, they can’t say that they didn’t know,” Steven Fennidy said. “That’s what Faith has been working on: spreading the word.”
Gibson hopes that Black women today will feel confident enough to wear their hair however they like.
“I advocate for hair freedom. If you want to wear it relaxed, straight, short, long, if you want a long weave, braids, twists, do your thing,” Gibson said. “I’m at the point where I’m free.”
The CROWN Act has been passed in the city of New Orleans but has not been passed statewide. It is currently waiting before the state legislature accompanying House Bill 41. Go to to track the bill’s progress.