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End the "Dreadlocks" Discriminatory Policy of The Thurgood Marshall College Fund

This petition had 6,835 supporters

As an MBA student at the University of the District of Columbia, I have maximized every opportunity to advance my academic and professional career by remaining active in almost every facet of the campus experience. I currently serve as the President of the Graduate Student Government Association and participate in several judicial committees governing the University. As a student leader, I strive to represent the voices of all students to affect positive change in the University. At this point, however, I must represent myself, and possibly hundreds of other Historically Black Colleges and University (HBCUs) students across the United States who have been unfairly discriminated against.

On October 7th, I was accepted to attend the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) – Leadership Institute. The conference, comprised of approximately 500 of the brightest students from the 47 HBCUs, is scheduled to take place in Washington, D.C. November 9-13, 2014. The goal of this conference is to provide students with leadership training and job and internship opportunities with many of the nations Fortune 500 companies. Based on my academic, extracurricular activities, leadership roles and strong professional decorum, I was deemed qualified to attend the conference. After my acceptance, I was then informed that I had been disqualified based on my physical appearance. I was informed that The Thurgood Marshall College Fund has instituted a ban of “Dreadlocks” for male participants of the conference. Thus, my invitation to attend the conference would be contingent upon the removal of my hair. Given that I wear my hair in the same manner as my father - serving as a representation of my cultural identity, heritage, and spirit, I feel it is highly discriminatory and sexist to make such a ruling.

The Thurgood Marshall College Fund is a non-profit, whose primary goal is to serve as a voice that advocates for students that attend the 47 public HBCUs. It troubles me greatly that TMCF would make this decision without engaging the external stakeholders and 47 member schools. The organization desperately needs this input in order to better understand the ramification of such an antiquated ideology. Furthermore, TMCF is not honoring the legacy of the late Justice Thurgood Marshall who stood for equality and educational advocacy. TMCF holds a prime position to challenge the narrative that students of color with a strong cultural identity are ill suited for employment. In essence, TMCF is perpetuating a woefully narrow image of black male leaders.

Please join me in asking the Thurgood Marshall College Fund to end this discriminatory practice and realign itself with its core mission of supporting and empowering the students that attend the public HBCUs across the United States by signing the petition below. Together we can end this form of discrimination.



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