Black Barber, Akron

Ohio Barber College Owner Says Denial Of Funding Is Racial And Political

Akron At-Large Councilman-elect Eric Garrett has been denied funding for his barber school. He feels the decision is based on political reasons.

A barber school in Akron attempts for funding has been denied by the mayor, prompting speculation from the school’s owner, a soon-to-be councilman, that rejection is politically and racially motivated.

According to The Akron Beacon Journal, At-Large Councilman-elect Eric Garrett received a letter from Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan stating that funding for his Beyond Expectations Barber College has been denied to avoid the “perception of impropriety.” Horrigan also raised concerns about the sustainability of Garrett’s businesses, which include the barber college.

Council President Margo Sommerville requested an explanation after City Council heard from students asking why the funds were blocked to defray tuition costs attending the Black-owned barber college.

Garrett said the amount requested is less than 10% of the college’s operating cost.

“It’s just an attempt to smear and deflect from the real issue at hand,” Garrett said. “My businesses have nothing to do with this. It’s just totally about assisting the students.”

Garrett claimed Horrigan’s critique was just “another attack on an African-American business owner” and that no one questions the caucasian leadership of the University of Akron or Stark State when these institutions are given grant funding.

Garrett put in the application before deciding to run for political office.

“Despite the absurd allegations that the City Administration has some ill will toward Mr. Garrett and his businesses and has denied funding in a punitive way, a review of the City’s past actions is revealing,” Horrigan responded, according to the Beacon-Journal.

He mentioned that Beyond Expectations received money in previous years: $31,500 in 2022, $31,500 in 2021, $15,000 in 2020, and $15,000 in 2019, totaling $93,000. The mayor said Garrett’s businesses are too reliant on fund money, a problem because the goal of giving the grant is to create “self-sustaining small businesses.”

Horrigan said “within the last five years, the City has provided Mr. Garrett with $135,250 in grant monies and $50,000 in loan funds, for a total of $185,250 in total funding support.

After not receiving the funding, Garrett said, “The students walked around with their heads down. I told them to lift their heads up because they’ve already won. Whether or not they get this $30,000 grant from the city, they’ve won because they didn’t quietly submit.”