EDGEWOOD, MD (WJZ) — Anthony Johnson is a master barber in Edgewood, but his purpose stretches beyond the chair.
Johnson said he saw a problem with violence in the community and decided he needed to step in and help stop it.
“Once I started cutting hair, the times that I would’ve spent getting into trouble I was so busy cutting hair and loving it.” Johnson said.
So he started the Young Barbers Club, pushing kids to trade the guns for clippers.
“I’m trying to give them a legal hustle, giving them an alternative to selling drugs and violence and everything.” Johnson said.
The group is dedicated to 19-year-old Thailek Willis, one of his clients who was shot and killed right outside Edgewood High School in 2018.
Their logo, “L34L”, means “Long Live Leek For Life,” and Thailek’s father, James Willis, said it keeps the memory of his son alive.
“I know he’s looking down at Anthony telling him how much he appreciates him.” Willis said.
The group meets every Monday to learn new techniques and perfect the craft of cutting hair.
15-year-old Keshawn Gardner said learning the trade doesn’t just keep him off the street, but it’s a skill he can use for the rest of his life.
“I think at this age, I feel as though because we are trying to follow the older guys, trying to do what everyone else is doing.” Gardner said. “I felt like if I learn how to cut hair I can make a couple of dollars every day.”
“My motto is, reach one teach one, so if I can save just one kid then you know my mission is complete.” Johnson said.
If you are interested in joining the group, Johnson said open enrollment is in April and you can learn more about their events here.