Crown act implemented in Columbus, Ohio

January 20, 2021 9:52 amTaijuan Moorman

City of Columbus Implements CROWN Act

Photo by Etty Fidele

The City of Columbus has implemented the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair or CROWN Act. The legislation, intended to ensure protection against discrimination based on hair texture and race-based hairstyles like braids, locs, and twists, went into effect on Friday, Jan. 16.

The ordinance was sponsored by Councilmember Priscilla Tyson with Councilmember Shayla Favor, in an effort to reduce the marginalization that occurs when students and employees have to worry more about how their hair will be perceived or accepted instead of their academic and professional capabilities.

“I am very pleased that our voices have been heard on this issue,” said Councilmember Tyson. “Discrimination takes many forms. This year we’ve been reminded that racism is a public health crisis, not only in America but in Columbus, Ohio, and around the world.”

“I’m honored to co-sponsor this important and timely measure alongside Councilmember Tyson as our City works to eliminate the impact of racism and discrimination in our community,” said Councilmember Favor. “Through the implementation of the CROWN Act, we are preparing to make strides towards greater equity in professional and educational environments for our Black community members who have been penalized for the appearance and style of their natural hair.”

The legislation adds two provisions to the Columbus City Code:

  • “Race” is inclusive of traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair textures and protective and cultural hairstyles;
  • “Protective and cultural hairstyles” includes, but is not limited to, such hairstyles as braids, locs, cornrows, bantu knots, afros, and twists, whether or not hair extensions or treatments are used to create or maintain any such style, and whether or not hair ornaments, beads or head wraps adorn the hair.

Further, the legislation expands discrimination to include employment, fair housing, public accommodations, and education.

The CROWN Act is the result of a national effort by the CROWN Coalition, founded by Dove, the National Urban League, the Western Center on Law and Poverty, and the Color of Change.

Legislation has been passed in states including California, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Colorado, Washington, and Maryland; Ohio cities including Cleveland Heights, Akron, Cleveland, Cincinnati; and other municipalities such as Pittsburgh, Kansas City, New York City, and New Orleans.


2019 Black man enslaved received $500,000 in restitution from White manager

Black man John Christopher Smith, enslaved by White manager, should receive more than $500,000 in restitution, court says – CBS News

A Black man who was enslaved by a restaurant manager from 2009 to 2014 should have been paid more money after his captor pleaded guilty, according to a South Carolina appeals court. 

In 2019, John “Jack” Christopher Smith was awarded $272,952.96 in restitution, representing minimum wage and overtime he was not rightfully paid while working at J&J Cafeteria in Conway, South Carolina. 

Smith, who has intellectual disability and an IQ of 70, was forced to work more than 100 hours per week without pay by Bobby Edwards, who took over management of J&J Cafeteria in 2009.

Smith had worked at the restaurant as a dishwasher since 1990, but when Edwards took over, he began taking advantage of Smith, forcing him to work. “Edwards effected this forced labor by taking advantage of Jack’s intellectual disability and keeping Jack isolated from his family, threatening to have him arrested, and verbally abusing him,” according to court documents. “His control over Jack also involved physical abuse.”

In 2019, Edwards pleaded guilty one count of forced labor and the district court sentenced him to 120 months’ imprisonment. At the time, U.S. Attorney Sherri A. Lydon said Edwards “has earned every day of his sentence,” for stealing “his victim’s freedom and wages.” 

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office will not tolerate forced or exploitative labor in South Carolina, and we are grateful to the watchful citizen and our partners in law enforcement who put a stop to this particularly cruel violence,” Lydon said. 

Edwards was also ordered to pay nearly $273,000 in restitution to Smith, but government requested an additional $272,952.96 in the form of liquidated damages. However, the district court rejected that request.

Now, the Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit says the previous restitution did not account for federal labor laws entitling Smith to $546,000 total. 

The court said that when an employer fails to pay, the employee suffers losses, including “the loss of the use of that money during the period of delay.”

So, to fully compensate Smith for any additional losses, the amount of his restitution should be doubled, the court suggests. The appeals court has vacated the district court’s award of restitution and is asking for recalculation.