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March 18, 2022

In Passionate Speech, Pressley Calls for Passage of CROWN Act to Ban Hair Discrimination

Video (YouTube)

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) delivered remarks on the House floor in which she called for passage of H.R. 2116, Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act, her legislation with Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-15), Gwen Moore (WI-04), Barbara Lee (CA-13) and Ilhan Omar (MN-05) that would ban discrimination based on hair textures and hairstyles that are commonly associated with a particular race or national origin.

Yesterday, Rep. Pressley applauded the passage of similar, state legislation by the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

 A full transcript of her remarks, as delivered, is available below and the full video is available here.

Transcript: Pressley Calls for Passage of CROWN Act to Ban Hair Discrimination

U.S. House of Representatives

March 18, 2022

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I rise today on the floor of the House of Representatives—the people’s House— to declare that Black girls, with our braids, locs, afros, all forms of natural hairstyles and yes, even our smooth Alopecian bald heads, belong everywhere.

Today, we take an important step towards codifying this fact into law by passing the CROWN Act, legislation I am SO proud to co-lead in partnership with Representatives Watson-Coleman, Moore, Lee and Omar.

For too long, Black girls have been discriminated against and criminalized for the hair that grows on our heads and the way we move through and show up in this world.

In my home state, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, two twin sisters, Deanna and Maya, high school students, were disciplined for showing up with braids. They were given numerous detentions, kicked off the track team, banned from prom, solely for their hairstyle.

In their own words, these scholars and athletes were judged more for their heritage than their homework.

No more.

For those sisters and thousands of other students who face discrimination based on their hair, the CROWN Act is for you.

For recent graduates who fear they must change their hair or cut their locs to secure a job, the CROWN Act is for you.

For our elders who have faced and fought this racism for generations, the CROWN Act is for you. 

Just yesterday, the Massachusetts State legislature made history by passing similar legislation.

By passing the CROWN Act today, we affirm – say it loud – Black is beautiful and so is our hair.  

Whether you are a student in a classroom, an employee in the workplace, or the next Supreme Court Justice or the Speaker Pro Tempore, you deserve to show up as your full self, rocking your crown with your head held high.

I urge a YES vote for every person who has been asked to shrink or to apologize simply for the beautiful way for which God made them.

I yield back.

In September, Rep. Pressley and Rep. Jim McGovern (MA-02) led their colleagues in re-introducing the Wigs as Durable Medical Equipment Act, legislation to help individuals affected by Alopecia Areata and patients with cancer who are undergoing chemotherapy by allowing medical wigs and other head coverings to be covered under the Medicare program.

In 2020, the House passed an amendment introduced by Congresswoman Pressley to provide $5 million dollars for the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases to fund research on the causes, impacts, and possible treatments of Alopecia areata.