The Coalition of African Communities (AFRICOM) added its flavors and colors to the 2020 Martin Luther King Day of Service by hosting a PA Natural Hair Braiders’ economic justice training at its office located at 6328 Paschall Avenue. Lee Mcguire, Esq. (The Institute of Justice), and John Shaw, Esq. (Shaw Keller), and Eric Edi (AFRICOM) facilitated the training. Ten African immigrant women attended the session. They represented over 120 natural hair braiders identified in the greater Philadelphia area.
In December 2018, AFRICOM organized the PA Natural Hair Braiders Support Group in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to eliminate the unnecessary Specialty License that natural hair braiders are required to have. Under the current law, natural hair braiders (90% of them are African immigrants and refugees) are required to complete 300 hours of courses in yet nonexistent schools and pass a Cosmetology Board Exam to be licensed to practice a trade they already know.
During the training, the participants built legislative advocacy skills and confidence to pursue justice. All they desire is the freedom to do their business. Governor Tom Wolf and Senator Anthony H. William strongly support the elimination of the current law, which, for almost two decades, has stifled immigrant businesses. In Philadelphia, hundreds of African immigrant women work in the natural hair braiding business.
Eric Edi, Executive Director/Policy Director