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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Esther Agbaje (DFL)

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Minnesota Senate passed CROWN Act companion legislation authored by Representative Esther Agbaje

Thursday, January 26, 2023

SAINT PAUL, Minn. - Today, the Minnesota Senate passed the CROWN Act on a 45-19 vote. HF 37, The CROWN Act, adds to the Minnesota Human Rights Act a definition of race that is inclusive of natural hairstyles and textures. Racial discrimination against Black natural hair harms the African heritage community and hinders the overall potential and productivity of Minnesota’s economy. 

“I am proud of my colleagues for passing the CROWN Act into law,” said Representative Esther Agbaje (DFL-Minneapolis). “Hair has been used as a proxy for race to deter qualified and talented individuals from applying for jobs and showing up to spaces as their authentic selves. The passing of the CROWN Act signifies our commitment to ensuring every Minnesotan, especially our young children from black and brown communities, are given the opportunity to be themselves and feel empowered to be themselves.” 

“The CROWN Act will ensure that no Minnesotan now or in the future can be discriminated against because of their natural hair,” Sen. Champion said. “This kind of discrimination disproportionately affects Black women, who deserve to experience a welcoming environment in our state. Recognizing the right to wear natural hair in the workplace is another step toward creating a more inclusive Minnesota.”

While Minnesota’s human rights law protects against racial discrimination, the pernicious problem of hair discrimination and racial prejudice toward Black natural hair has historically gone unmarked in Minnesota and elsewhere. The CROWN Act will bring clarity to the Minnesota Human Rights Act to ensure that no Minnesotan can be discriminated against because of their natural hair.

Passing the CROWN Act is an important step toward eradicating racial prejudice and stigma regarding Black natural hair in Minnesota. Today, Minnesota joins 19 other states and is the first state in 2023 to pass the CROWN Act. The national movement across the country is moving forward to ensure that discrimination based on hair is prohibited and protects the civil rights of all Americans. The CROWN Act passed in the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2020, and 2022, but did not become state law. A bill signing is expected in the coming weeks.