What better way to celebrate Juneteenth than by rocking your natural hair for the first time on TV? That’s precisely what news reporter Akilah Davis did during a segment highlighting her hair journey.
Davis, who is 34 years old, is a race and culture reporter at WTVD, the ABC11 affiliate station serving the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area in North Carolina and its surrounding areas. Since Juneteenth is a federal holiday that celebrates the day enslaved Black Americans in Texas were told they were free, Davis decided to share her experience embracing her natural texture of hair with viewers. For this personal story, she wanted to try something different with her hair, so she wore the locs she’d been growing out since December 2021, according to People.
When the package aired, it featured commentary from Davis’ parents, Terry and Debra Davis, Duke University African American studies professor Dr. Jasmine Cobb, and Davis herself, of course. Although not wearing her own hair made it easier to switch hairstyles and she looked great on the outside, Davis shared that she had to do some internal work.
“From ponytails to beads, my tight curls were difficult for mom to manage,” she said. “Unknowingly, I internalized this idea that straight hair was good hair and afro hair, like mine, was not. Marketing campaigns on TV and in magazines didn’t help.”
This resulted in Davis only wearing wigs and weaves whenever she was on the air.
“The message really stayed with, I would say, a generation of Black women in particular who really had to work to overcome the idea that something about their hair was just inherently inadequate,” Cobb said in the segment.
Ultimately, Davis said she hopes that her decision will inspire others.
“I chose Juneteenth to share this journey to hair freedom with all of you because it’s liberation day for me,” she said. “So, moving forward, this is how you’ll see me on TV, and I’m hoping to inspire women and little girls struggling to embrace their roots. I see you sis, and I’m with you.”
She’s doing just that, as Black women flooded her comments section on Instagram and thanked her for sharing her story.
“Beautiful sis!! Proud of you! I felt the same way and that’s why I wore my natural hair my first day on the bench in Nov. 2017. My hope was to inspire other black women and attorneys that our hair is beautiful and professional! 🔥#TeamLocs #MyCrownisBeautiful#MyHairMyPower,” one woman wrote.
“Let them beautiful locs flow!! We’re proud of you, Sis🤞🏿❤️👑” another commented.
“🔥🔥🔥 Awesome, congratulations. You look amazing. We applaud you, Queen!” a third person agreed.