Barbershop at St. Olaf to be featured in CBS documentary ‘CROWN’
When St. Olaf College students Aidan Lloyd ’24 and Giovanni Green ’23 began leading efforts to get a barbershop on campus, they were eager to bring a much-needed service to the Hill. But they were just as focused on creating a place for connection and community.
Their commitment led to the creation of the pop-up barbershop in Buntrock Commons, which serves as a practical and powerful sign of inclusion.
Their work recently caught the attention of film producer Sarah Kazadi-Ndoye and her crew at CBS. As the crew began work on a new documentary that details the history of Black hair in America, the role that sports and athletes have played in that history, and efforts to pass legislation that prohibits racial discrimination based on hair style or texture, they came to campus to film the St. Olaf barbershop.
The resulting documentary, titled CROWN, will premiere on the CBS Sports Network on February 19 at 6 p.m. ET and will be available on the Paramount Plus streaming platform after that. St. Olaf will host a film screening on Monday, February 20 at 5 p.m. in Tomson Hall 280. After showing the documentary, organizers will host a panel discussion on Black hair and reactions to the documentary.
CROWN features current athletes who are trying to change the status quo and emphasize the importance of self-expression — including Lloyd and Green. The two are members of Oles Against Inequality (OAI), a student organization primarily composed of student athletes that helped launch the barbershop on campus in the fall of 2021 with the support of the Taylor Center for Equity and Inclusion and St. Olaf Athletics.
“In the Black community, barbershops aren’t merely just a place to get a haircut, and your barber isn’t just someone who cuts your hair,” Lloyd says. “Historically, barbershops have been a hearth for the civil rights movement, a safe place for people to communicate ideas, a place of community.”
In the Black community, barbershops aren’t merely just a place to get a haircut, and your barber isn’t just someone who cuts your hair. Historically, barbershops have been a hearth for the civil rights movement, a safe place for people to communicate ideas, a place of community.Aidan Lloyd ’24
Lloyd, Green, and other students worked to create that space at St. Olaf and were eager to share their experience with the documentary team. “They reached out after they saw our work with the shop and its inclusive nature,” Green says. “Of course we wanted to be a part of something so special and impactful.”
The documentary examines the way that hair has played a large role in documenting the Black experience throughout time. The hair styles seen as “acceptable” and the styles that push boundaries still continue to change, and CROWN celebrates the athletes who were — and are — willing to be their authentic selves even at the risk of being labeled “unprofessional” or “a distraction.” Looking at the historic changes in perception of Black hair through the lens of athletes who play a large role in Black culture enables viewers to see how far the discussion at Black hair has come — and how much change is still necessary.
As the documentary notes, organizers are pushing for that change through the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act, which prohibits racial discrimination based on hair style or texture in the workplace and schools. So far the CROWN Act has been passed in 18 states and in the U.S. House of Representatives.
At St. Olaf, Lloyd says the barbershop is a service that “is here to stay” — and he’s working to secure space on campus that is equally as permanent.
“If people weren’t convinced about the impact and importance of the barbershop, I would hope that it’s obvious at this point,” he says. “The benefits of having the barbershop are truly endless.”