While America remembers Rosa Parks, some in North Lafayette are being reminded of Jim Crow. A whites only barbershop owner says it's not what you think. Or is it?
Barber Herb Leger says, "I tell them you want a haircut, go across the street. They can give you a professional haircut, but I can't." Most people are shocked when they see whites only on Leger's barber sign. Like Victoria Cenales who stopped by to ask Leger why doesn't he accept black customers.
Leger told her, "It's not that I don't want black people in the shop. It's just that I'm not qualified to give them professional service." Cenales told him, "People will misunderstand that sign. That was back in the 60s."
Leger says he's inexperienced and not trained to cut black hair. "Completely different way of cutting hair. It's not the same," he says. The owner of Platinum Kutz, another barbershop across the street, says Leger has never sent customers his way, and customers inside can't believe Leger thinks it's okay to put up a whites only sign. Thirty-year-old Nick Milton says, "I had to think about what year I was in - whether I was in the 60s or the 2000s." "Just plainly state I don't do black haircuts. You don't have to say whites only," Ellis Banks says. Barber Ron Landry tells KATC, "It's a racial sign. It makes a statement. I don't like it."
Leger is 72-years-old and clearly remembers the animosity and hurt that "whites only" signs spread during the civil rights era. He says he's not racist, just not qualified. Cenales says his sign is "the way society is." "Most people are closed-minded," she says.
Leger understands the sign could send a mixed message. "In today's life, I can see. People, especially your black people are not very broadminded," he says. Platinum Kuts owner Jason Walker says, "I feel it's ignorance, and it has no place.
Leger says in a few days he's replacing his temporary sign with a permenant one without whites only. Since he only opened two months ago, he used it to establish the kind of services he offers.