By Kara Thompson,
On June 14, 40 students from four different schools in Baltimore City received scholarships in memory of Destiny Harrison, the 21-year-old hairdresser and salon owner who was murdered in one of her salons in December of 2019.
The scholarships will help cosmetology students live out their own dreams by handling some of the financial worries of breaking into the industry.
“To me, this is about how we take a horrific tragedy and transform our grief into something that is positive for other people, particularly for young people who need a sense of inspiration and also need to know that we really care about them,” said Councilman Zeke Cohen, of Baltimore’s 1st District. ”That’s what this experience of doing the scholarship has meant to me.”
Harrison was shot to death in her Madame D. Beauty Bar, which was one of her last endeavors as a successful serial entrepreneur. The Beauty Bar was just one of four hair salons owned by Harrison, who was fatally shot in front of her one-year-old daughter, Dream.
Harrison, born and raised in Baltimore, was a graduate of Mergenthaler Vocational Technical High School, where she was a part of the cosmetology program. She then attended Bowie State University, where she majored in business administration and minored in fashion design.
According to her mother, Harrison started out doing makeup when she was young and began braiding hair when she was around 13 or 14 years old.
“I was doing braids, locks and things like that from home, so she may have watched me do a little bit of it,” said Racquel Harrison, Destiny’s mother. “I don’t want to take the credit from her though. She
[got into the hair business
] on her own.”
Her first salon, The Hair Trap, was passed down to her by her mom. Harrison also had her own online brand called “Madame D Collection,” and sometimes went by the name “SlayByDes.”
After Harrison’s murder, many members of the community reached out and wanted to do something in support of the slain mother and business owner. Councilman Zeke Cohen, a representative for District 1 on the Baltimore City Council, reached out to Harrison’s mother to brainstorm ways to carry on her daughter’s legacy. Together, they came up with the idea of a scholarship program in her name. Racquel named it “Destiny’s Dream Scholarship,” after her daughter and her granddaughter.
“The idea was that when you graduate from cosmetology school, there are all these costs around getting licensed, getting your start-up kit,” said Cohen. “So we wanted to provide money, support, and mentorship to other young people like Destiny who wanted to have a career in cosmetology.”
In order to put the scholarship fund into action, Cohen reached out to Healing City Baltimore for help. Healing City Baltimore is a network of organizations and agencies looking to holistically respond to Baltimore’s racial, social and economic challenges.
“They were very present and were making people very aware- they set up everything,” said Racquel Harrison, of the experience working with Healing City Baltimore.
The movement behind Healing City Baltimore came after former Mayor of Baltimore Jack Young signed the Elijah Cummings Healing City Act in 2020, making Baltimore the first American city to have legislated trauma-informed care into law, according to Cohen.
The Destiny Dream Scholarship Fund has raised over $70,000 to give to students. In years past, only five students have received scholarships, so this year’s pool of 40 recipients is significant.
“Having this scholarship as a proof point that there is a bright future here
] is really important because I think it shows to our young people that their lives matter, and that the hustle, sweat, and hard work that they are putting in will ultimately pay off,” said Cohen.
Tylanah Teasley, who attends Mergenthaler Vocational Technical High School, was one of the scholarship recipients this year. She plans to use the money she received to purchase more tools that she uses both in cosmetology school and when practicing hair at home. In the future, she hopes to be a part of a hair salon, where she can help give back.
“I like making other people happy, I like knowing that other people are on the right track of doing something that they want to do,” said Teasley. “So if I’m helping them do something that we both want to do, I feel like it’ll make a big change.”
Harrison’s mother also offered to be a mentor for a few of the scholarship recipients this year. These students showed up prepared and ready to receive their scholarships and even had speeches, which she found impressive and wanted to help them even more.
“Shoot for your dreams. I hope they remember
] did at a very young age,” said Harrison, speaking of her hopes for the recipients being helped in her late daughter’s name. “You can do whatever you want if you put your mind to it.”
At this time, no arrests have been made in the brutal killing of Destiny Harrison. There is a change.org petition demanding justice and calling on the Baltimore City Police Department to do more to solve the homicide.
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