JMC premieres ‘The Barbershop Diaries’ for Black History Month

The School of Journalism and Mass Communications at San José State University will premiere a documentary entitled “The Barbershop Diaries” on Feb. 8, from 3-5 p.m. in Morris Dailey Auditorium. Admission is free for the documentary screening; tickets may be reserved online at

The School of Journalism and Mass Communications will premiere a documentary, 'The Barbershop Diaries,' on Feb. 8.

The School of Journalism and Mass Communications will premiere a documentary, ‘The Barbershop Diaries,’ on Feb. 8.

The documentary, created by College of Applied Sciences and Arts multimedia students and Professor D. Michael Cheers, focuses on the historic and powerful impact barbers and beauty salon owners have in communities. According to a press release, “For generations it’s the place where people from all cultures have gathered to learn about each other, life and the challenges we face together.”

“This is the last in a series of trilogy projects that examines how engaging and compelling visual storytelling impacts community,” Cheers said, in the release. “In 2010, we premiered ‘Soul Sanctuary,’ an in-depth look at the challenges facing the aging congregation and leadership at Antioch Baptist Church, the oldest African American Baptist Church in San Jose.”

In 2013, “Dream Fulfilled, Dream Deferred” was premiered with a look at urban violence through the eyes of two San José families affected by gun and gang violence.

“‘The Barbershop Diaries’ afforded me the opportunity to spend time inside the shop’s hallowed public space,” Cheers said, “peer into the diverse lives of these barbers, and share with the public their personal stories of triumph over adversity, naysayers, personal demons and the stumbling blocks and hurdles of life.”

Over two years, the film “explores the eclectic lives of 10 barbers who work at Barbers, Inc., a neighborhood barbershop in downtown San Jose.”

The press release describes the participants featured in the documentary: Two are former inmates, now seeking salvation, redemption and “a chance to make things right.” Others are a budding actor and screenwriter; a lesbian barber who juggles a domestic relationship and her mother’s stage four breast cancer; a promising model and singer; a tattooed, man‐child who was headed for “jail or the graveyard”; a “my faith comes first” Muslim, who struggles to find a quiet place to pray during work hours; an unassuming Ethiopian immigrant, who lost his security guard job, and used his jobless benefits to pay for barber college; and a young apprentice barber, still studying for his license, with two toddlers in tow.

As part of Black History Month, the School of Journalism and Mass Communications will also unveil an online portrait gallery showcasing photographs taken by photojournalism students of South Bay area African-American barbershop and beauty salon owners.

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