The Ohio Union Activities Board will collaborate with the Natural and Prosperous Society, or NAPS, to bring students an interactive event centered around natural hair.
“Natural Hair: The Experience” will be an all-day, three-part event Sunday, beginning at 12:30 p.m. with the “Curl Talk” panel at the US Bank Conference Theater inside the Ohio Union. “What Curls Want,” a hands-on event featuring local vendors and hairstylists, will be held from 1:30-4:30 p.m. in the Great Hall Meeting Room, and the event will end with a talk from special guest Matthew A. Cherry at 7 p.m., Kate Pamplin, a third-year in the personalized study program and OUAB member, said.
Averi Allison, a third-year in communication and NAPS member, said she wants students to be able to embrace who they are and learn about what makes natural hair so important in relation to Black culture. In this climate and society, she said it can be hard to keep track of the things that make someone unique.
“The whole concept of natural hair is, ‘This is who I am, this is my culture and this is what I bring. I’m proud of it. I love it,’ ” Allison said.
“Curl Talk” will act as the event opener and will get students familiar with the natural hair movement, Pamplin said. Featuring Ohio State professors and faculty members with knowledge and experience in natural hair, the panel will provide context about natural hair and its significance to the Black community.
Tonya Dawson, OUAB adviser and associate director of campus events, said the organization aims to hold events that promote conversations and dialogues that haven’t yet been addressed by the organization.
“With this event, we’re also talking about the Crown Act and how people are discriminated against for their hair at their workplace and at school,” Dawson said.
The Crown Act, which stands for “Creating A Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair,” was first signed into law in California in 2019 and protects Black men, women and children from being discriminated against for wearing their natural hair in schools and workplaces, according to the NAACP website .
The second event, “What Curls Want,” will be a vendor expo immediately following the panel, Pamplin said. The expo will allow local vendors, hairstylists and barbers to sell their products at booths and hold training sessions on hair care and hair styling.
“The event gives students a chance to interact and support people from the Columbus community and local vendors themselves while learning more about natural hair care and testing different products,” Pamplin said.
The last event of the evening, “Hair Love with Matthew A. Cherry” will be a guest talk with the filmmaker, according to the event page . Cherry, who will join a moderated discussion in the Performance Hall, is the creator of the short animated film “Hair Love,” Pamplin said.
Cherry will also be signing autographs during the “What Curls Want” expo from 4-4:30 p.m., according to an OUAB Instagram post .
In addition to being a former NFL wide receiver for the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cincinnati Bengals, Carolina Panthers and the Baltimore Ravens, Cherry has worked on projects such as “The Last Fall,” “9 Rides” and “BlacKkKlansman,” according to his website .
“Because he is so multifaceted, students may be more drawn to him and learn that hair discrimination is still prevalent in the United States and how they can work to end that,” Pamplin said.
Dawson said the purpose of “Natural Hair: The Experience” is to encourage students to step into the room and learn something about natural hair without feeling bad about not knowing or understanding certain things.
“When it comes to OUAB and the program and board, I find it exciting to see how students try to find creative ways to bring a topic to the forefront,” Dawson said.
The “Curl Talk” panel and the “What Curls Want” expo will be first come, first served, and in-person attendees will be required to wear masks in accordance with community guidelines. Students must register in advance to attend “Hair Love with Matthew A. Cherry” and can also register to watch the event via Zoom .
This story has been updated to include an announcement made on the OUAB Instagram page Feb. 18 at noon that Matthew A. Cherry will join the “Hair Love” conversation in person and sign autographs during the “What Curls Want” expo.