Black barber shops and hair salons across the country are legendary for being centers of conversation on everyday life, from religion to politics, from fashion to weather. A desire to effectively utilize this grassroots network for the cause of life gave birth to a fresh, novel idea.
I recently attended The Bronner Brothers International Hair Show at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, GA, arguably the largest hair show in the world. Several black pro-life leaders and I were there to implement the Samson Project.
This initiative derives its name from the Bible account of Samson in the book of Judges. Samson was born to a woman who was originally sterile and childless. She was instructed that no razor was to touch Samson’s head because the boy was to be a Nazarite, set apart to God from birth, and would begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines. Samson had extraordinary strength given to him by God and was not to cut his hair or his strength would be depleted.
I and many others are convinced that the strength of the African American community continues to be cut and depleted as long as abortion remains the leading cause of death among blacks. The purpose of the Samson Project is to reach barbers and hair stylists across the country with the message of life. Its goals are to inform them about abortion’s disproportionate impact on the black community, and persuade them to have Life Talks in their shops. What an incredible sphere to influence with the message of life.
The visionary behind the Samson Project was Catherine Davis. She was joined in Atlanta by Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Pastoral Associate with Priests for Life; Dean Nelson, VP of Underserved Outreach with CareNet; Shealeta Murden-Reed, Executive Director of CareNet Pregnancy Center of Atlanta and Christina Martin, International House of Prayer—Atlanta. This dedicated group and I were there hosting a booth, engaging attendees in Life Talks and encouraging them to do likewise in their shops across the country.
The exhibit area had well over 75 different songs continuously blasting from each vendor’s booth, various smells from hair care products and raised voices of vendors trying to persuade attendees to sample and purchase their wares. This, along with the scantily clad women and men, made the hair show a very challenging venue in which to exhibit. However, we are grateful for having been there. We were successful in reaching more than a thousand barbers, hair stylists, nail technicians and makeup artists with the message of life. Men and women from 34 states and Canada and England accepted packages from us at the hair show. Each made a commitment to watch the DVD Maafa 21, to share its message with their clients and friends, and to post a window decal in their shop stating “I participate in Life Talks. Ask me why…”
Many who visited our booth shared their personal stories. One man confided that his sister had eleven abortions. We spoke with pastors and bishops encouraging them to use their influence to share the message of life with their church members. One woman shared with me that she learned two days before the hair show that her daughter, a freshman in college, is pregnant. She encouraged her daughter to abort the child, only to have her respond by saying “God has a purpose for this child and I will not end the life of my baby.” We were able to encourage this new grandmother and pray with her so she could move past the condemnation she felt for not having been a life-affirming voice of reason in her daughter’s life. She lamented that at this time of family crisis, it was her daughter who had to be the voice of life and calm. She left saying that she believed the main reason she was at the hair show was to have met us.
This event was very impactful for me on two different levels. My father was a barber for 23 years while simultaneously pastoring a church, and my daughter is currently attending hair school.
We’re convinced that we have reached an untapped sector of life in the black community and plan to continue promoting the Samson Project. If you’re interested in seeing the Samson Project and Life Talks occurring in barber shops and hair salons in your city, contact call 513.729.3600 or visit Protecting Black Life.