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HAIRitage, a three-day conference, in honor of Black History Month, was held on the Livingston Campus on Thursday, Feb. 9-11.

Sessions, workshops, and events focused on the topic of Black and Afro-Latino hair and its influence in the United States and abroad.

“The goal of HAIRitage is to promote discussion and dialogue about how people experience difference through the lens of hair,” said residence life coordinator Modinat Sanni. “I was so excited that we were able to produce such a unique diversity program for Black History Month.”

HAIRitage opened with a movie screening of Good Hair (2009) on Thursday, Feb. 9. The documentary/comedy movie featured actor Chris Rock who explores different African-American hairstyles. On Friday, Feb. 10, HAIRitage volunteers tabled on all four campuses to celebrate Black History Month as well as encourage attendance at the conference.

HAIRitage held a day long conference and reception on Saturday, Feb. 11. Following the registration breakfast which featured a welcome and keynote address, participants divided into three blocks of session presentations and an entrepreneurship panel, before closing out the day with an evening reception.

The keynote address was given by Anu Prestonia, the founder of the internationally-recognized salon, Khamit Kinks. Prestonia, a beauty consultant, has been featured in hundreds of leading magazines and publications, as well as, film, television, and radio. Prestonia is an acclaimed innovator and business woman and considered to be a pioneer and expert in the area of black and natural hair care.

The breakout sessions and workshops featured over 24 speakers in 12 different sessions on hair related topics. Various session titles included, “Bonnet and Chill”, “Po-Loc Tics”, and “What Your Weave Can Achieve.” Hosted by the Department of Residence Life, the conference was supported by various Rutgers University-New Brunswick departments such as the University Foundation, Paul Robeson Cultural Center, and the Cultural Center Collaborative. Two student organizations were also involved in the planning process, including Curly in College and the Rutgers University Student Assembly, as well as 16 companies, salons and vendors. Over 130 participants attended the conference and reception.

“At the conclusion of the conference, our hope was that participants felt better able to discuss race, gender, religion, politics, and identity” said Sanni. “I am extremely proud of the work that was accomplished and am looking forward to hosting the conference again in 2018”.

HAIRitage was featured as part of Rutgers University-New Brunswick’s Black History Month calendar and co-sponsored by the Paul Robeson Cultural Center. Learn more about Hair-itage, future events held by Residence Life and the Student Affairs Diversity and Inclusion campaign.