Crown Act implemented in Atchison, becoming second KS city to do so

Atchison United Youth members Audrey Hill, Leyla Crittendon, JaZiah Williams, and Kaydenn Kelley, presented before the Atchison City Commission Monday, October 16, 2023/Submitted photo

(KAIR)--Following action of the Atchison City Commission Monday, the City becomes the second in Kansas to approve what's known as the Crown Act, a law that forbids discrimination based on hair texture and hair styles.

Crown stands for “Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair.”

Prior to the approval of the ordinance, the Commission heard a presentation from Atchison United Youth, urging passage of the ordinance. Members in attendance were Audrey Hill and Kaydenn Kelley, both students at Maur Hill-Mount Academy, and Ja’Ziah Williams, and Leyla Crittendon, students at Atchison High School.

Following presentations from each member, complete with a video showing other Atchison youth seeking passage of the Crown Act, the Atchison City Commission voted unanimously, 4-0, to approve the ordinance implementing the Crown Act.

The City of Lawrence, in August, became what the Kansas City Star reports is "thought to be the first city in Kansas" to enact the measure.

Prior to the Crown Act, the law did not afford protection for race-based hair discrimination, even if the hairstyle was inherent to racial identity. That meant that Black people were denied opportunities for employment or professional advancement without consequence. It meant that Black children were sometimes denied access to educational and extra-curricular opportunities because of their natural hair.

Following Monday's vote of the Atchison City Commission, Atchison United President, Sean Crittendon, in a release said they are pleased with the City's decision, saying the "excellent job" by the Atchison United Youth "was the culmination of weeks of preparation and work with the assistance of" founding Atchison United members, LaTisha Downing, Kevin Hill, Charo Kelley, and Crittendon. Crittendon added that approval of the Crown Act means "Atchison continues to show that it is a forward-looking community that is cognizant of the need to promote unity in the community.”

To listen to this story, including comments during Monday's presentation by the Atchison United Youth, go here.

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