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Student Suspended Over Dreadlocks Invited To Red Carpet At Oscars

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Deandre Arnold of Mont Belvieu, Texas, may not be allowed to walk in his high school graduation. School officials said Deandre's shoulder-length dreadlocks violate the dress code. When he refused to cut his hair, his story made national news. And now he will walk the red carpet at the Oscars this Sunday.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DWYANE WADE: You and your mother, Sandy, are the official guests of the Oscar-nominated team behind "Hair Love" at the 2020 Academy Awards.

NOEL KING, HOST:

That's former NBA star Dwyane Wade. He and his wife, the actress Gabrielle Union, are two of the producers of "Hair Love," a movie that's been nominated for best short film animated at the Oscars. Deandre told CBS he never expected all of this.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DEANDRE ARNOLD: It's crazy. Like, I never thought that people like DWade and Gabrielle Union would be, like, on my side.

KING: In a video to Deandre, Gabrielle Union talked about how his story really moved her.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

GABRIELLE UNION: You just wanting to wear your hair the way you want at school and all the scrutiny that you faced and how unwavering you have been...

KING: Last week, Deandre went on Ellen DeGeneres' show, and he talked about why he won't cut his hair.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE ELLEN DEGENERES SHOW")

ARNOLD: My hair really means - like, it's really important to me because my dad is from Trinidad and, you know, it's part of our culture and our heritage. And I really wish the school would kind of be open to other cultures and just at least let us try to tell you some things. Don't just shut us out.

INSKEEP: Matthew Cherry, the writer and director of "Hair Love," told NPR how he related to Deandre's story.

MATTHEW CHERRY: You know, I see myself in the kid so much. You know, we both have locks. I remember being, you know, a teen who was coming into his own and, you know, just like how, you know, self-conscious that can be. And it just seemed like the least we could do to try to give them a little bit of joy in this kind of trying time.

KING: And it's obvious that Deandre is really feeling that joy. Here he is again on CBS.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ARNOLD: It really just means so much that we get an invite like this. Like, it means the world to us.

(SOUNDBITE OF SINITUS TEMPO'S "A STROLE THROUGH SAIGON") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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