Gov. John Bel Edwards (D-LA) has signed New Orleans Democratic Rep. Candace Newell’s House Bill 1083 — also known as the CROWN Act — into law.
The state legislation was first introduced in January 2020 by former Rep. Cedric Richmond, who now serves as a senior advisor to President Biden. The bill was approved by the Louisiana House last month. After a two-year effort, the CROWN Act has officially become law in Louisiana after Edwards signed the legislation on Tuesday.
“Hair discrimination is racial discrimination, and discrimination is not a Louisiana value,” Gov. Edwards tweeted. “Rep. Newell’s CROWN Act will protect Louisianans from discrimination based on a person’s natural, protective, or cultural hairstyle. It is with great pride that I signed it into law.”
The CROWN Act, which stands for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair,” is a law that prohibits race-based hair discrimination in employment, education, public accommodations and housing. The CROWN movement began in 2019 in collaboration with Dove, National Urban League, Color Of Change and Western Center on Law & Poverty.
A research study funded by the CROWN Coalition found that Black women’s hair is 3.4 times more likely to be perceived as unprofessional. According to the 2021 Dove CROWN Research Study for Girls, young Black girls in white school environments are 50 more likely to experience hair bias and discrimination.
Rep. Newell tweeted after Gov. Edwards signed her bill on Tuesday: “What a beautiful way to celebrate National Crown Day a few days early! The CROWN Act has cleared the last hurdle & will become law in Louisiana! Thank you to all the advocates who spoke about their experiences with natural hair throughout the process.”
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill earlier this year. The legislation now sits with the Senate, where Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) first unveiled the Senate version of the bill in 2019.
According to Newell, Louisiana is the first Deep South state to enact this type of legislation. Similar bills have already passed in at least 15 states and 30 cities across the United States.
California was the first state to pass the CROWN Act in 2019.
“Hair discrimination is rooted in the belief that straight hair is ultimately cleaner, neater or more professional, while it’s opposite for hair that is textured,” Rep. Newell said in a press statement. “It just moves Louisiana forward. We are the first Southern state to have this type of legislation statewide.”