The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) sent a letter to Mississippi High School Activities Association expressing concern regarding grooming policies that disproportionately target and penalize Black children for wearing their hair in culturally significant hairstyles, and addressing an incident that occurred earlier this month at a high school powerlifting competition in Jackson, Mississippi. A Black student-athlete was forced to remove hair beads moments before participating in a powerlifting competition in order to avoid being disqualified. In the letter, LDF asks the NFHS and MHSAA to reassess their rules to ensure that all grooming policies serve legitimate safety concerns and are applied in a manner that does not target Black students with culturally significant hairstyles.

Students should not be barred from participating in extracurricular activities because of hairstyles or hair formations that pay homage to their racial and cultural heritage -When Black students wear their hair in culturally significant hairstyles, they are disproportionately singled out and disciplined for violating various regulations and policies. This discriminatory treatment results in lost educational and extracurricular opportunities and, in certain instances, violates state and federal law.

Read the full letter here.

Learn more about natural hair discrimination here.


Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization. LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.

Follow LDF on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.