PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A West Philadelphia barber who has cut the hair of some of nation’s biggest celebrities is using his chair to spark dialogue. His goal is to use the power of the barber’s chair to build bridges across color lines.
“When you come into the barber shop, that’s when you let things out,” said Robert Woodard, owner of Woodard’s Barber Shop, which has lived at the corner of Bryn Mawr and Lebanon Avenues in Wynnefield for decades.
Over the years, Woodard’s chair has seen the backsides of famous faces like Jessie Jackson, Charles Barkley and Nina Simone.
“I did her eyebrows,” Woodward said, “and I also did her hair.”
His most famous head was Michael Jackson.
But Woody didn’t just cut the hair on their head — he listened to what was inside, as well.
“If I can get you relaxed enough, I can get you spilling beans that you would not ordinarily do,” he said.
Woodard discovered his client’s fears and feelings on violence, politics, race and even their looks.
“Michael (Jackson) got in my chair and he talked about his skin,” he said, “and about how big his nose was.”
Woody realized he was needed outside of the shop so he launched Barber Shop Talk Human Family Day. For 15 years he’s brought in doctors and performers. He even created a character called ‘Melanin Man’ to highlight human similarities.
On Sunday, he’ll host the 16th Human Family Day at Union Baptist Church.
“If we understand how valuable life is than we won’t have all these shootings,” Woodard said, “and we won’t have division.”
And he’s not done yet. Woody has his eye on one more famous head.
“I’m waiting on the president,” he said. “I know he’s a going to make it.”
A fade that would be a jewel for the king of crowns.
“It’s done! The hair cut’s done,” he said. “I’m speaking it into existence.”