The only minority-owned private barber college in the state, the Alabama College of Barber Instruction was founded in 1979 by Clinton Simpson Sr. as the New Breed Barber Shop. His son, Clint, Birmingham resident for all of his forty-six years, now runs the barber shop and college.
The sign out on the sidewalk says, New Breed. The gold letters on the side of the dark green building, high above the door, read Alabama College of Barber Instruction, Inc. (A.C.B.I.) Both entities are housed in the same building at 1715 4th AVE N in downtown Birmingham.
SEC team pennants line the wall above the row of barber chairs and a seemingly endless collection of clippers. Customers listen to Christian gospel radio and chat with the barbers in this unique downtown institution. Mr. Simpson wants customers to know that “We are a Christian based business.”
Clint provides a full complement of barbering services. “As a barber shop we offer an array of styles, from classic and traditional styles to the latest styles that are trending now. To be honest, all of them are popular. I can’t say I see one more than any other.”
Mr. Simpson explains the college aspect of his business. “As a school we offer the opportunity to become a barber/stylist, shop owner, or educator of barbering. Students working to earn a barbering license participate in lab sessions twice a week where they cut and style hair and beards.” In addition to providing training, the mission of the A.C.B.I. is to encourage minority ownership of commercial property in the Fourth Avenue Historical Business District. The area is part of the newly designated Birmingham Civil Rights District National Monument.
Clint is most proud of the community outreach provided by his business. “We have a program to provide the homeless with free haircut services. It gives students the opportunity to learn and give someone a service they couldn’t otherwise afford. I’m proud of that, of giving back to the community.”
Clint recently installed a small museum of his father’s mementos near the entrance to the shop. Included are his personal barbering clippers, multiple photos, awards and newspaper articles.
This generational community institution will no doubt continue. Clint’s young son frequents the establishment, and may, someday, inherit this business that Clint is so very proud of. “Downtown is like home to me. My father started here decades ago. I have enjoyed watching it grow from what it was in the past to what it has become.”
For more information about A.C.B.I./New Breed’s hours of operation and class services, visit: https://www.facebook.com/Alabama-College-of-Barber-Instruction-INC-110813948987919/?ref=br_rs
Click here for more info about the founding of the Alabama Civil Rights District National Monument: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/birmingham-alabama-civil-rights-district-national-monument/