LAUREL, MS (WDAM) - A Laurel barber has used his clippers for decades to shape not only the hairlines and beards of his customers, but also the spirits and aspirations of young men in the community.
In the Laurel edition of 7 On the Road, WDAM took up a chair in Hair World, where Mayor Johnny Magee and his longtime barber told us the philosophy of the shop is a cut above average.
Magee gets a clean cut every Friday at 3 p.m. He gets his neat Afro shaped up and calls it “the regular.” Magee sits in the chair belonging to a barber he grew up with.
“I see myself as an artist, and to get a perfect picture, you must take your time and perfect it,” said Richard Brown, owner of Hair World.
The two men chuckled and thought back to their humble beginnings. They described days of living in poverty and walking almost three miles just to get to school.
“It was a place called the K.C.,” Magee said. “He lived right up the street from me and was able to have something, which is Hair World.”
“I wanted to be a part of something that made a difference in the city, and that means you must pour yourself into the city politically, spiritually in the churches and in the schools,” Brown said.
It’s the reason the haircuts at Hair World leave loyal customers with much more than a makeover.
“Young people from the high school are here all the time...the basketball players...the football players...talk about life,” Magee said. “If you look around the walls here, you’ll see all kinds of people who still come back. They reminisce and catch up on old times, giving you a sense of connection.”
Over the mum buzz of the clippers, there was camaraderie and conversations about the community.
“It’s good to hear with all the people’s minds what they feel, what they think, so you can go out and try to do it,” Magee said.
Magee motioned to a sign on the wall that mentioned the Voting Rights Act implementation and read, “Do you vote?” Brown said every week there is a new quote on the dry erase board with important subjects to be discussed.
“Our job, as far as I’m concerned, is to start the conversation,” Brown said. “Hopefully, we’ll change and be better supporters of our schools, churches and other organizations.”
As the mayor’s mustache was trimmed neatly, he served as a symbol of success the youth can obtain.
“There are very few people you can say you idolize and look up to,” Brown said. “He’s one of those people who we might be the same age, but he’s a hero.”
As Brown finished up Magee’s hair cut, the mayor pointed to a young boy propped up in a chair next to him.
He was buried into his iPhone while listening to the ongoing conversation.
“That little fellow right behind you...he’s here. He’ll be back to hear, see and pick up things,” Magee said.
Magee said the barbershop plays a huge role in the community by allowing young men to speak out, discuss problems and see good examples.
“There’s a sign on the door when you walk in that says ‘pull your pants up,’” Magee said.
Brown spoke on respect and making strong, lasting bonds with his clients. He said he’s cut a father’s hair, then his son’s hair and then his son’s hair.
“That’s three generations of good relationships,” Brown said. “Now, I don’t know if I’ll be around to cut his son’s hair,” Brown laughed. “The Lord and the people involved in our lives encouraged us in a way that we feel we have to do. That’s what we have in common.”