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US blues musician Otis Taylor – whose critically revered song Ten Million Slaves has been featured on major films and television shows – has received his diploma from the high school which expelled him decades ago because of his hairstyle.

As CBS News Colorado reported Wednesday, the 74-year-old Taylor was studying at Denver’s Manual high school in 1966 when he drew unwanted attention from administrators because of his long hair.

“You had to have that James Brown haircut – you can have all you want on the top, but you had to be clean on the sides,” Taylor told the news station. “The whole school district was coming down on people who didn’t look how they wanted you to look.”

Taylor, then 17, rebuffed school officials’ ultimatum for him to cut his hair, so they forced him to leave, according to The Guardian.

He described how his parents were so upset that they grounded him for three days, and the first thing his father did at the end of the punishment was to take him to a barber.

Since then, laws have been passed which prohibit discrimination against students over their hairstyle. Meanwhile, Taylor grew up to pursue an award-winning career as a musician, recording more than a dozen blues albums. Besides being an accomplished singer, he also played the guitar, banjo, mandolin and harmonica.

Denver’s public school district “wanted to right [the] wrong” inflicted on Otis Taylor

Officials invited him to a ceremony this week in which they presented him with an honorary diploma symbolizing the one he would’ve received if the modern rules were in effect at the time he was a student at Manual.

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“Today is a day that we rectify the failures of the past,” the Denver public school board’s vice president, Auon’tai Anderson, said at the ceremony. “I know what Otis experienced along with others will no longer happen in the state of Colorado.”

Taylor told the CBS station he doesn’t regret his expulsion – not when he raised children who went to college and his wife of 37 years still loves him. In fact, on the day he was kicked out, he recalled thinking to himself: “Oh, I’m out of school!”

The Crown Act in Texas signals a sign of change for Black men and women

The CROWN Act, which prohibits discrimination based on an individual’s texture or style of hair, is already being celebrated as it awaits Gov. Greg Abbott’s signature.

According to KHOU, House Bill 567, the bill passed the state Senate on Friday and only needs the governor’s signature to become law.

Shelly Smith braids hair at her salon, Braid Heaven, Jan. 28, 2020 in Kansas City, Kan. The House on Friday, March 18, 2022, voted 235-to-189 to prohibit discrimination on the basis of hair texture and hairstyles like hair that is tightly coiled, curled, or worn in locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, or Afros. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

“I think this is past due, we’ve been needing this,” said Nori Johnson, who opened her natural hair salon in EaDo almost a year ago.

Texas would become the latest state to enact the law in a movement inspired by the experience of two Houston-area students who were told to cut their hair or be disciplined.

This year, Dove co-commissioned a study with LinkedIn and found, among other things, that Black women’s hair was 2-and-a-half times more likely to be perceived as unprofessional.

More than 20% of the women surveyed, had been sent home from work because of their hair.

Hailing from Charlotte North Carolina, born litterateur Ezekiel J. Walker earned a B.A. in Psychology at Winston Salem State University. Walker later published his first creative nonfiction book and has...

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