Albuquerque senior tries to break Guinness World Record for his culture

For Hiddekel Sara Burks, senior nurse and retired Albuquerque, breaking a Guinness World Record isn’t just for fun, it’s an expression of her culture.

Currently in the Holocaust museum is a textile braid nearly 4,000 feet long that is still unfinished. This long range of colors will not be complete until Burks, founder of the National Braiders Guild, braids 6,000 feet and breaks the Guinness World Record for the longest hand-made textile braid, which currently measures approximately 5,217 feet. Burks estimates that she will finish in about six to eight more weeks and weave all the braids into a double helix.

Burks said working among the history represented at the museum “just ties into what it is – it’s a tribute to the CROWN Act.”

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed House Bill 29 and Senate Bill 80 in April, preventing discrimination in hairstyle or hairstyle based on race or religion for New Mexico students . This law is known nationally as the CROWN Act, which stands for “Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair”.

“This bill is the product of the leadership of Representative Stapleton, Senator Pope and others who recognize not only that our multicultural diversity is our strength, but that we must actively fight for justice,” said Lujan Grisham in a communicated. Press release. “I am proud to enact this law and I am honored to call these justice-minded legislative leaders my colleagues. “

The Guinness administration originally wanted Burks to braid only with black thread, but, being 80% blind after five eye surgeries in his life, it would have been a difficult feat. Instead, Burks uses a variety of colors after being inspired by a close friend to go her own way, and every 100+ feet of yarn represents “the many people who have supported natural hairstyles.”

Over 800 feet of rich purple and gold thread honor Kobe Bryant, while teal and turquoise were side by side depicting Hattie McDaniel and Cicely Tyson. Many other names sit on this project, and when the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily shut down its operation last March, Burks was working on the Gigi Bryant strain.

“These colors and the people, they’re all related to something related to the image of blacks with natural hairstyles,” Burks said.

Burks’ braiding history has grown into this project, with previous achievements in braid length at 100ft, 400ft, 2,000ft and now that Guinness Record attempt of 6,000ft.

“As a professor of cosmetology, Hiddekel continues to promote the cultural, professional and technical aspects of braiding,” Burks’ biography reads outside the museum. “In 2000, Hiddekel set a record for the world’s longest synthetic hair braid ever recorded for a hairstyle (2000 feet in length).”

Burks has been braiding for over 43 years and has long been an advocate for professional braiders promoting natural hairstyles. She spoke of the decades of hair removal African Americans suffered and said she acted as a “mediator” between the professional and cultural aspects of braiding to encourage not only businesses and governments to accept natural hairstyle, but the African American community as well. herself.

“Our image was not acceptable to us… We evolved and it’s mostly self-acceptance,” said Burks.

Braiding is one of the oldest known hairstyling techniques and represents a long history of activism for many African Americans. Burks spoke of the rags that slaves were forced to wear on their hair because they haven’t been given the necessary materials to take care of their hair, resulting in unhealthy conditions.

“(The braids) bind us together”, Essence Magazine said in a item. “They are an integral part of black culture – past, present and future. “

Seeing other retirees achieve great success inspired Burks to start the project, such as Opal Lee, 94, living to see Juneteenth become a national holiday after spending his life defending it.

Burks initially kicked off the project in February 2020 at the Coronado Shopping Center, but was suspended last March due to the pandemic. Burks herself contracted the virus and has since been vaccinated.

“I’m just glad I’m still on the planet because so many people haven’t made it,” Burks said. “I mean, I lost a sister, I lost a brother (and) my neighbors.”

Burks started braiding again on June 3 at the Holocaust Museum after having to move out of the mall due to the pandemic. She works in the public eye, as required by Guinness regulations, during normal museum hours.

Visitors to the First Friday Artwalk, as well as community members passing by Burks at the mall, have donated many balls of yarn that are helping Burks pursue their goal. UNM volunteers, including those from African American Student Services, also helped Burks along the way.

With the future in mind, Burks is working on an additional exhibition of hair photographs that explores the symbolism and representation of hairstyles in different cultures. As Burks focuses on the Guinness World Record first, she said the project won’t be far behind.

Megan Gleason is the editor of the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at [email protected] or on Twitter @ fabflutist2716

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