Monica C. Bell


In September 2006, Taalib-Din Uqdah, the man whom at least one observer called "the Johnny Cochran of natural hair," and the plaintiff in the 1993 braiding case Uqdah v. District of Columbia, went to Illinois to lead braiders' efforts to eliminate braider licensing regulations. He calls himself a "modem-day abolitionist" on a crusade against "the last legal bastion of chattel slavery in the United States"-the cosmetology industry. Uqdah claims that the purpose of his endeavor is to "get[] the white man's foot off the black woman's neck." Uqdah's fighting spirit has heartened braiders, dreadlock stylists ("lockticians"), and state legislators, who are optimistic that a bill will pass to amend the Illinois Barber, Cosmetology, Esthetics and Nail Technology Act of 1985 to exclude braiders from state regulation.

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