(All of the honorees with their plaques and Councilman Price. (L to R) R. Vaughn Gill, Councilman Curren Price, Monica A. Young, Matthew A. Cherry and Karen Rupert Toliver)
As Black History Month nears an end, many celebrating major successes as Black people continue to push culture and make a change in massive ways. Councilman Curren Price took notice and used his platform to award the creators of the Academy Award Winning short film “Hair Love” at City Council.
Wednesday, February 19, Councilman Price lead a special City Council presentation where he recognized director, producer and writer of “Hair Love” Matthew Cherry and his entire team for their significant achievement.
“I’m excited [this] is an important achievement in cinema and an important achievement here in our City Hall that we acknowledge and recognize the outstanding achievements of an African American that’s made real history,” Councilman Price stated.
“Hair Love,” the animated short film uncovers the relationship between a Black father and his daughter Zuri. Together they tackle one of the more daunting tasks for a girl dad, doing her hair for the very first time. Created to promote hair love amongst young Black men and women, “Hair Love” fills a gap in representation in not only animation but in cinema.
Matthew A. Cherry signing copies of “Hair Love” book next with his Oscar sitting nearby (Photo credit: Dedee Verdin)
As a former NFL player, Cherry is now the second retired professional athlete to win an Oscar behind the late Kobe Bryant. In addition to the Oscar win, “Hair Love” the book is also a New York Times Best-seller and a major change agent in the quest for protection against discrimination for hairstyles and textures that are unique to Black people.
“‘Hair Love’ was really born out of really wanting to see more representation and know we had an incredible team that worked on the project,” Cherry stated. His team also included producers Karen Rupert Toliver and Monica Young who were present at City Hall to accept the honor. “We really just did this project to do something that people can see themselves in.”
“Animation is an important medium. It’s oftentimes one of the biggest movie franchises that come out, and I think if we could get more representation and innovation it will just trickle down to all the other forms of filmmaking.”
“I am continually humbled by this project and the impact that it’s had,” Toliver shared, “But I think today is probably one of the biggest moments. I’ve worked on a lot of movies but none of that impacted me as personally.”
Toliver continued to share the importance of seeing the positive male image as she has two sons, “I realized this is an opportunity to really present positive images of Black men so that people could really start to think about things differently when they walk this earth.”
Members of the council expressed great support and appreciation of the film as the topic of hair is relatable for all Black and Brown people. Specifically, Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson shared positive remarks surrounding the Crown Act which Senator Holly J. Mitchell passed, barring jobs from discriminating due to hair.
“All is good and life works best when those of us who make policy, can make policy; but those who are in the world of art can change hearts and minds. So hopefully, generations and generations of African American girls going to school, going to work and live life with a little bit more confidence and a little less insecurity,” he continued.
“It’s all related,” Councilman Price also stated. “It certainly suggests that minds are coming together, recognizing the importance of individualism, the importance of ethnic expression and the importance of just being a good neighbor.”
(L to R) Matthew A. Cherry, Councilman Curren Price and Karen Rupert Toliver (Photo credit: Dedee Verdin)
As the celebration continued, pictures were taken and awards were presented. Cherry, Toliver and Young showed extreme happiness and pleasure to be acknowledged by the city of which they all reside. But as Toliver stated, it’s about more than just the film.
“I think this one is deeper than all of them because it really is about policy and about intersecting with to making change in the world,” she stated.
“I think one of the really amazing components about this project is that there’s been like real-life change component to it as well. With the Crown Act being and introduced to three more states, even being here today. Senator Holly J. Mitchell, the person that authored the original bill being from Cali, so it’s just been incredible; it just feels like a dream,” Cherry added.
“It’s just been a real blessing. I feel like this project is not just our project, but it’s the people’s project because that’s where we helped to elevate it. From media, all the social media likes and shares, to all the Kickstarter campaign supporters. This is the people’s project,” Young shared. “It’s bigger than just us making a film. It feels like a movement.”