Isis Brantley fought a fight that few in Dallas even know existed. A leader in the underground hair-braiding movement, Brantely was arrested in '95 for practicing her craft without a cosmetology license. Known throughout the international hair community as Naturally Isis, she refused to accept the charge, arguing that cosmetology courses required 1,500 hours of training for an unrelated field. Natural hair is a method that embraces the existing texture of hair and works with it, rather than altering it through heat treatment or other services that might make the scalp and locs vulnerable to damage. It's also a movement about reclamation, teaching good nutrition and pride in heritage.
It took nine years until Naturally Isis' case was overturned. She used the time to define and change the course curriculum for future stylists within her field. Now, rather than 1,500 hours of coursework, only 35 are required and they focus directly on braiding and other fundamentals of natural hair. Isis was even grandfathered in as a licensed educator.
On September 1, she's organizing the World Natural Hair Parade,, and she's wrangled in celebrity client Erykah Badu to be Grand Marshal.
The event kicks off at the Wynwood Shopping Center at 10:30 a.m. and ends at the Beckley-Saner Park with a community celebration. Last year's inaugural event drew in more than 1500 attendees, and this year's is expected to be even larger with comedian/actress Kim Coles (who went natural last year), and political activists Angela Davis and Sister Souljah on the invite list, although their participation hasn't yet been confirmed.
The festival will raise scholarship money for heads of single parent households in Dallas who want to attend the Institute of Ancestral Braiding. But it's also a celebration of the black journey, meant to break down European stereotypes on what constitutes beauty in hair and reinforce that what already exists is damn glamorous. There will be onsite braiding, a hair show, food and music.