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Frankfort becomes third Kentucky city to enact legal protections for natural hairstyles

An onlooker observes a rally for the CROWN Act outside the Kentucky Capitol on March 1, 2023.
Josh James
An onlooker observes a rally for the CROWN Act outside the Kentucky Capitol on March 1, 2023.

The CROWN Act — that's anti-discrimination language meant to protect natural race-based hairstyles — may not have gained traction in Frankfort this session, but in Kentucky's capital city the movement is catching on.

"I'm ecstatic that Frankfort... it's the heart of Kentucky... we passed it," Frankfort city council member Katrisha Waldridge told LEX18.

The move puts Frankfort in the company of Lexington and Louisville, which have both approved similar measures.

Cities in support are having to adopt the CROWN Act — which stands for Creating a Respectful World for Natural Hair — on their own, as legislation has been slow to move in the General Assembly, despite bipartisan backing. This year, hundreds gathered inside and outside the Capitol demanding lawmakers add two provisions to already existing civil rights code, protecting hairstyles and expanding the definition of race to include traits historically associated with race.

"This is a real issue for us," Jackie McGranahan is with the ALCU of Kentucky said. "This is a real issue for Black Kentuckians."

According to her organization, Black women are 1.5 times more likely to be sent home from work due to their hair — and 80% more likely to say they've altered their hair from its natural state in order to fit in at the office.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.