By James Wright, Special to the AFRO,

The chairman of the D.C. Council offered young people in Ward 8 a chance to look good on the first day of school. D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) paid for free haircuts from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Aug. 13 at the popular Davis Barber and Beauty Services on Livingston Road, S.E. in Ward 8. This is Mendelson’s third year of paying for haircuts.

“Getting a fresh haircut is a positive message to kids about going to school,” the chairman told the AFRO. “This will help low-income families with preparing their children for school.”

Derek Davis provided free haircuts for kids at his barber shop in Washington, D.C. (Courtesy photo)

Free haircuts have become commonplace among “Back-to-School” activities in the District of Columbia. Barbers donate their services and generally give free basic haircuts at school sites and in their shops.

Davis Barber is a product of the Willie Davis family, which started the shop in 1968. The late Willie Davis was known to run a professional establishment focused on serving the needs of the customer in a clean environment.

Willie Davis was a respected barber on the national level and in 2009 he was elected to the National Association of Barber Board of America Hall of Fame.

His son, Derek, a retired District of Columbia Public School educator, manages the shop, with his sibling Marsten and is a prominent African-American barber. Derek Davis was elected president of the National Association of Barber Boards of America in 2013 and has served as the chairman of the District of Columbia’s Barber and Cosmetology Board.

Marsten teaches barbering at Ballou Stay High School, an alternative institution for people who have dropped out for various reasons. He also works in the shop during opening hours.

Some of the barbers in the shop have been with Davis for decades.

Derek Davis told the AFRO that his family believes in giving back to the community. “We want to give something back and Ward 8 has been good to us,” Davis said. “We can afford to give free haircuts to young people so they can look nice for school.”

Davis admitted that the free haircuts also serve as a vehicle to getting new customers.

Among the patrons that Davis Barber has had over the years is a former mayor of the District.

“Marion Barry used to come here to get his hair cut,” Davis said of the late political icon. “He was a good customer and some members of my family would socialize with him at The Players’ Lounge.

Twenty families had their sons’ hair worked on while book bags and other school supplies were handed out. Monica McLamore lives in the immediate area of Davis Barber and regularly participates in the free hair cut event. “I bring my boys to this every year and this is the third year for us,” McLamore told the AFRO. “This prepares them for school and it helps economically.”

Helping people is precisely why Mendelson does this. “This barbershop is part of the neighborhood and anything I can do to help the community I will certainly try to do,” he said.