Musician, 74, gets diploma decades after being expelled for hair

(NewsNation) — A 74-year-old blues musician has finally received his high school diploma decades after he was expelled for the length of his hair.

Otis Taylor wasn’t able to walk or graduate from Manual High School in Denver in 1966 due to the school’s policy at the time.

“I used to go to school with fringed leather jackets and shirts and beaded moccasins, so I always sort of stood out,” said Taylor. “But then they just came up with this hair thing … the hair had to be close on the sides. It could be like James Brown a lot on the top, but really close on the sides.”

When they told him it was the hair or a diploma, Taylor said “Bye.”

“My mother wasn’t happy. My father was livid,” he recalled.

Taylor said the school’s plan to make amends to several students for the hair policy started to come together during the pandemic.

“It took a little time to put it all together, and (the school) did a nice job.”

Taylor told NewsNation he’s received calls from other students who were also kicked out for long hair.

“I’m getting a lot of Facebook messages from people that had the same situation,” he said. “I think about those people. You know, maybe who didn’t do so well. Maybe they’re living in homeless tents? I don’t know.”

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