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How adding CROWN Act language to dress code policy could better protect Black students

Southern Coalition for Social Justice
Southern Coalition for Social Justice

As of June 2023, about two dozen states had adopted the CROWN Act. CROWN — which stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair—is state-level legislation that intends to protect Black and brown women from discrimination based on how they style their hair.

Monika Johnson-Hostler, vice-chair of the Wake County Public School Systems board, in studio at WUNC in Durham.
Stacia Brown/WUNC
Monika Johnson-Hostler, vice-chair of the Wake County Public School Systems board, in studio at WUNC in Durham.

In early March 2024, the Wake County Public School System introduced a school board meeting proposal to amend the district’s dress code policy to include language from the CROWN Act.

Studies show that Black students experience hair discrimination as early as age 5 and teenagers miss up to one week of school per year due to hair dissatisfaction.


Monika Johnson-Hostler, vice chair of the Wake County Public School Board

Leoneda Inge is the co-host of WUNC's "Due South." Leoneda has been a radio journalist for more than 30 years, spending most of her career at WUNC as the Race and Southern Culture reporter. Leoneda’s work includes stories of race, slavery, memory and monuments. She has won "Gracie" awards, an Alfred I. duPont Award and several awards from the Radio, Television, Digital News Association (RTDNA). In 2017, Leoneda was named "Journalist of Distinction" by the National Association of Black Journalists.
Stacia L. Brown is a writer and audio storyteller who has worked in public media since 2016, when she partnered with the Association of Independents in Radio and Baltimore's WEAA 88.9 to create The Rise of Charm City, a narrative podcast that centered community oral histories. She has worked for WAMU’s daily news radio program, 1A, as well as WUNC’s The State of Things. Stacia was a producer for WUNC's award-winning series, Great Grief with Nnenna Freelon and a co-creator of the station's first children's literacy podcast, The Story Stables. She served as a senior producer for two Ten Percent Happier podcasts, Childproof and More Than a Feeling. In early 2023, she was interim executive producer for WNYC’s The Takeaway.