TOLEDO, Ohio — On South Byrne Road in the GlenByrne strip mall is where T.O.L. Barber College sits. For many, barbershops are more than just a place to get a haircut. They can act as a refuge and a place of open discussions where customers and barbers can learn from one another.
T.O.L. is Toledo's first Black-owned barbershop college, which just opened its doors in March 2023. Owner Antwan Turner said he loves Toledo. He's been cutting hair since his early teen yeas and says his barber college is more than just a place to learn about hair. Turner said he is working to make sure his business is a gateway to something better for anyone who walks through his door.
"Not only is this a college--a school of barbering--but, in the barber world, we talk about everything. So, this school is geared towards that too," Turner said.
He currently has 16 students enrolled in school and is beyond proud of how far they've come. He said about 80% didn't really know what they were doing a few weeks ago, but after coming in every day and learning from professional licensed barbers, they've grown. In addition to learning, there have been a lot of this week's discussion throughout the city centered around Toledo's string of gun violence.
Though the college is in south Toledo and far enough away from some of the shootings, it's still a citywide issue. Turner said the violence among youth isn't surprising, or sadly even new, but it is upsetting. He said he want his institution of higher learning to be an outlet.
"I just want to try and help out as much as I can and give off the knowledge. I don't want to hold anything from nobody and if you wanna know, them I'm gonna teach," Turner said.
As Toledo's first Black-owned Barber College, Turner said T.O.L. can be seen by the community as an open platform for community betterment.
"If they want to help themselves, or they're tired of the riff-raff that they're going through, they can come on out of it and come talk to me. We can get you enrolled," Tuner said. "The knowledge I'm giving and resources I'm giving are worth more than money."
He said no topic, within reason, is off subject, especially if it's aimed at growth. Turner said he's here for everybody.
"Stop the violence is just a message. But if you show them a way to stop or give them a reason to stop, that's more where I come in at," Turner said.
While the topic of combating gun violence seems to have numerous answers, depending on who you ask, Turner said he believes it all comes back to families.
"The mindset has to change in the parents," Turner said.
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