Hairbraider Melony Armstrong just wanted to earn an honest living. Armstrong had learned how to braid hair from an renowned expert in Atlanta, and she had the drive to open her own salon in Tupelo, Mississippi. What she didn’t have was a state license to practice cosmetology. Before Armstrong could open her business, the Mississippi State Board of Cosmetology required her to attend a board-approved school for a 18 months at a cost of about $10,000.
Without the money to get a license, Armstrong took her passion and channeled it into a legal challenge against the cosmetology board. Her successful struggle would permanently change the way business was done in Mississippi, removing arbitrary barriers that stood in the way of hundreds of other aspiring entrepreneurs who wanted to enter the business of braiding hair.
The documentary film, ‘Locked Out: A Mississippi Success Story’ traces every step of Armstrong’s long fight to change the law, from her humble hair salon to the statehouse. In the video above, Reason TV’s Nick Gillespie spoke with filmmaker Sean Malone and Melony Armstrong at FreedomFest in Las Vegas about how she sparked statewide reform.
The full 26-minute documentary appears below:
Important Point: Filmmaker Sean Malone points out in the Reason.tv video above that the membership of the Mississippi State Board of Cosmetology is dominated by owners, managers or employees of the state’s cosmetology schools, creating an obvious and serious conflict of interest when the state “hair cartels” are challenged by hairbraiders.
HT: Steve Bartin