LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Real Young Prodigies is a group of kids in Louisville who rap about social justice. They’re also advocating to ban hair discrimination in Kentucky.  

What You Need To Know

  • Lawmakers are working on a statewide bill to prevent hair discrimination

  • The CROWN Act has been filed in each of the last two sessions, but never made it to a committee

  • The Republican chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee said he plans on supporting it this year

  • The bill comes after a number of incidents around the country where Black and white kids were told they needed to cut their hair to participate in class or in activities

“You should be able to do whatever you want with your hair. You can’t let nobody tell you how to wear your wear,” Jeriah McMillan said. “If you feel like you look good with a certain hairstyle, put it on. If somebody says you look ugly with a certain hairstyle but you like it, keep wearing it.”

Members of the group testified in Frankfort on Friday in support of the CROWN Act, which would prohibit schools and businesses from telling people what to do with their hair.  

“Black hair is our culture. And also I have many ways and many things to do my hair because I have control of it,” DeAngela McMillin said. “And that’s why I’m asking you, Mr. Chairman, to pass this CROWN Act so many young people like me and the Real Young Prodigys can let our hair freely and we can have control over our hair.”

Jeriah McMillan also noted white members of the Meade County High School baseball team were told they needed to cut their mullets earlier this year, so the bill wouldn’t just apply to Black people.

Sen. Whitney Westerfield (R-Hopkinsville), who leads the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he supports the measure, even though it’s not something he considered when he initially ran for office.

“But it’s an issue that’s important to me now as a father of two biracial children who have beautiful hair, this hits really hard for me,” he said.

Rep. Attica Scott (D-Louisville) has filed the bill in each of the last two regular sessions, but it never went anywhere.

She says she’s optimistic about next year, though, after the city of Louisville passed its own CROWN Act ordinance.

“I even wrote to and asked the Speaker of the House, Speaker [David] Osborne, for a hearing on the bill. That never happened,” Scott said. “So now that we can potentially get it in a new committee with a new committee chair who is more open, I’m hopeful that will get some movement on the bill.”

She said she’s faced discrimination for her own hair, and heard plenty of stories from others.

“I’ve heard stories of people who have been fired from their jobs or forced out because they had braids or locks or twists or afros,” Scott said. “No one should experience that discrimination anywhere, particularly in the commonwealth of Kentucky.”

The CROWN Act will be considered when lawmakers meet for the next regular session, which starts in January 2022.