Renowned Blues Musician Otis Taylor, 74, Awarded High School Diploma Decades After He Was Expelled For Fancy Hair

 

Denver Public Schools has chose to make amends by handing the famed 74-year-old Blues singer a diploma after Manual High School rejected him in 1966 due to his hair.

The incident, which occurred more than 50 years ago, occurred at a time when there were no rules forbidding hair discrimination, according to CBS News. Although he did not clearly remember the day he was expelled from the high school, the award-winning artist offered some memories from his time there in an interview with the news organization.

“I remember that day thinking, ‘Oh, I’m out of school!’” Taylor, who was 17 when he was kicked out, said. “You had to have that James Brown haircut” during that era, he added.

“You can have all you want on the top, but you had to be clean on the sides,” he recalled. “The whole school district was coming down on people who didn’t look how they wanted you to look.”

After being advised to either cut his hair or leave by school officials, Taylor claimed he ultimately made the decision to leave. “I wasn’t considering starting a janitorial service or anything like that. When asked about his plans at the time of his expulsion, he responded, “I was trying to find out how to make my music.

Taylor added that after learning of his expulsion, his parents did not treat the news lightly and that he later relocated to California while his father remained there. He added that after he was imprisoned for getting into trouble, his father finally took him to the barber to get a haircut.

“My father let me sit there for three days. When I came out, he took me straight to a barber. I got my haircut!” he jokingly told CBS News.

During the presentation ceremony, the Vice President of the Denver School Board, Auon’tai Anderson, said, ‘Today is a day that we rectify the failures of the past.” “I know what Otis experienced along with others will no longer happen in the state of Colorado,” Anderson added.

When he was asked if his life would have panned out in another way if he had accepted to cut his hair, Taylor said has never pondered on that since life has been great for him.

“The wrong happened a long time ago. So being a Black man in America, I’m going to deal with wrongs,” he said. “My kids went to college. My wife loves me and we’ve been married for 37 years. How can I regret?”

Taylor has had a successful music career and has won numerous honors along the way, proving that he did not allow his high school expulsion hold him back. His most well-known song, Ten Million Slaves, has received widespread recognition. The song has been used in well-known television programs and motion pictures, including Johnny Depp’s 2009 film Public Enemies.

 

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