State Of The Union: Darryl George, Black Student Suspended Over Locs, Attends Biden’s Address


President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on March 7, 2024. | Source: MANDEL NGAN / Getty

One of the special guests invited to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address Tuesday night is at the center of a controversy over alleged hair discrimination in Texas.

Darryl George, who wears locs, was repeatedly suspended for how he styled his hair. Just last month, a judge ruled in favor of the school district’s decision to suspend George because of his hairstyle, saying that the months-long punishment he faced did not violate the state’s law prohibiting race-based hair discrimination. 

It was in that context that the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) extended an invitation to George and his mother, Darresha George, to be present when Biden addressed both chambers of Congress in the U.S. Capitol.

“There is no sound justification for the way the Barbers Hill Independent School District is treating Darryl George,” Nevada Rep. and CBC Chairman Steven Horsford said in a statement emailed to NewsOne. “Darryl is a young student who just wants to go to school and receive an education. Darryl, and any student, should be allowed to go to school in a safe environment, free from this sort of bullying and mistreatment by the school system.”

Horsford added: “We applaud Darryl and his mother Darresha George for their courage in standing up for what is right, and Dr. Adjoa B. Asamoah for leading the national movement to outlaw race-based hair discrimination. The CBC stands in full support of Darryl’s personal right to wear his hair the way he chooses, and we are calling for the Barbers Hill Independent School District to end this discriminatory farce and immediately allow him to return to the classroom and receive his education.”

New Jersey Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, the lead primary sponsor of a national hair discrimination bill called The CROWN Act, said George’s situation underscores the urgency for such legislation.

“I introduced the CROWN Act to prohibit discrimination based on a person’s hair texture or hairstyle,” Coleman added. “The treatment of Darryl George over the last six months highlights the need to pass the CROWN Act on the federal level. Using in-school-suspension for this long, MONTHS, and over a civil rights dispute is atrocious. They’ve told this young man, ‘your hair, the hair God gave you, is wrong. You must change the hair God gave you to conform to what we want to see.’ At this point they’re not trying to punish him, they’re trying to break his spirit. God bless him, they haven’t yet.”

Barbers Hill Hearing

Dr. Candice Matthews, left, listens as state representative Ron Reynolds, right, with Darryl George, center, makes comments before a hearing regarding Georges’s punishment for violating school dress code policy because of his hairstyle, on Feb. 22, 2024, at the Chambers County Courthouse. | Source: Houston Chronicle/Hearst Newspapers via Getty Images / Getty

What happened to Darryl George?

George, 18, was removed from his high school and sent to a disciplinary alternative education program after being suspended for more than a month over his choice to wear his locs unpinned and below his eyebrows.

George was sent to the alternative program EPIC from Oct. 12 through Nov. 29, for what the principal called a “failure to comply” with campus and classroom regulations.

In December, Darryl George’s family filed a formal complaint with the Texas Education Agency, as well as a federal civil rights lawsuit against Gov. Greg Abbott, Attorney General Ken Paxton, and the school district for violating the state’s CROWN ACT.

“I love my hair, it is sacred and it is my strength,” said George in court documents.

Superintendent Greg Poole defended Barbers Hill Independent School District’s position to repeatedly suspend George for how he wore his locs.

“Being an American requires conformity with the positive benefit of unity,” Poole wrote in an open letter about George’s case. “We have taken the highly unusual step of seeking a declaratory judgment in state district court to verify our interpretation.” 

Poole also said in the letter that George moved to the district from a place that allows longer hair and that the decision is up to local officials.

“Ultimately, this is an issue of local control and deciding who should be setting the policies, goals, and expectations of our school district,” Poole wrote.

The CROWN ACT, or House Bill 567, went into effect in Texas on Sept. 1, 2021. Since then, more than  20 states have enacted some form of the CROWN Act, which bans discrimination in schools and the workplace based on Black hair texture and style.

CROWN, which stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair, protects individuals from discrimination over natural and protective hairstyles in the workplace, schools and other institutions. The legislation also ensures that people with unique hairstyles like locs, Bantu knots or afros, aren’t deprived of educational and employment opportunities. Rep. Waston Coleman is fighting for the Senate to pass the historic legislation across the United States.


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