The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) today sent letters to both the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights and the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) following up on a December incident at Buena Regional High School where Andrew Johnson, a Black high school wrestler, was forced by a referee to cut his dreadlocks before a match or forfeit. The letters share our general concerns with conduct targeting natural textures and styles, stress the importance of undisrupted education and extracurricular opportunity for students, and welcome opportunities to speak further with each organization.
Last month, LDF submitted an open public records request with the NJSIAA seeking information regarding policies about and investigations into student athlete discrimination on account of race or hair after the harms inflicted on Andrew Johnson.
We continue to work toward eliminating the practice of hair policies serving as pretexts and justifications for racial discrimination in schools and workplaces.
Read the full letters below:
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and 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.