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I am excited to step inside this museum to see the artifacts and learn about the many African Americans who shaped American history and culture. As a home school mom my children and I explored museums in place of a classroom where we experienced hands-on learning that stimulates all the senses. But the National Museum of African American History and Culture has a special place in our lives, it is the museum where the Cornrows & Co. collection will be preserved and shared with the world. . March 16, 1978 after being fired because of my braided hairstyle, I declared “I will braid so many heads that no black woman will ever lose her job because of her braided hair,” little did I know I would be making history as I tirelessly worked to make that a reality. Over the past 36 years my husband Taalib-Din Uqdah and I would successfully change discriminatory Dress Code grooming policies of Hyatt, Marriott Hotel, American Airlines, Avis car rental, DC Metropolitan Police Department, Smithsonian Security guards, US Navy and the US Army to name a few. We then fought on behalf of braiders around the country to protect their 14th Amendment Constitutional right of economic liberty. We were successful in getting hair braiders exempted from having to get a cosmetology or barber license in CA, MD, MI, MS, UT, Washington DC, GA, NC and TX. As a result hair braiders can open Natural Hair Braiding businesses in these states without the threat of Government fines and or arrest. Cornrows & Co. has donated to the museum the US Army “Lesson on Hair” presentation which was instrumental in changing the 2014 grooming standards, my script for the film “Daughters of The Dust,” including Polaroid’s of the actors hair styles I created. The collection includes all Cornrows & Co. publications, legal papers and photographs documenting these historic events. And to my absolute surprise they have accepted three of my fashion designs for the Museum textile archives. I had planned to be a fashion designer and was creating hand sewn designs as young as 11 years old. When I came to Washington DC in 1977 my plan to become a fashion designer was interrupted (by no choice of mine) to instead pioneer a natural hair braiding industry in America and protect the rights of African Americans to wear braid hair styles and open businesses providing the ancient art of African Inspired braid, twist and loc styles. I can close my eyes in comfort knowing the work we did will forever be available to inspire others to continue to protect our two very fundamental rights – Economic Liberty and Natural Hair Freedom. The harder the fight –the sweeter the victory. The Institute for Justice 2016 nmaahc.si.edu

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