One-Armed Barber Harold Brown Is Bringing Inspiration to His New York City Community


October 18, 2023

Harold Brown says that he’s “the best one-armed barber in the world,” according to PIX11.

Brown spoke highly of his barbering skills as he cut a student’s hair at the American Barber Institute. His nonfunctioning left arm is from a birth defect that he said has haunted him for years.

“I’ve been called all kinds of one-armed names growing up as a child, some of the worst things you can think of,” he recalled. “I grew up not loving myself. I always felt I had to prove myself to people.”


Brown grew up in Jamaica, Queens, and got caught up in crime, which landed him in and out of prison for more than 30 years.

“I was tired of doing wrong. I needed to do something right in life. I was at rock bottom and in jail. I had nothing, nowhere to turn,” he said. He went on to receive guidance from a fellow inmate named Desperado.

“He taught me how to cut hair. The more I cut, the better I became. The whites showed me how to cut their hair. The Blacks showed me how to cut Black hair, and Hispanics showed me how to cut their hair,” Brown said. “Every walk of life was in the state penitentiary, and they all showed me how to cut their hair.”

After he was out of jail, he got his first break at barbering at a Harlem shop. He then later enlisted as a teacher at the American Barber Institute in Manhattan.


“I love teaching people how to cut hair,” he explained loudly. “I love my students, and they love me back.”

Photo by PIX 11

5 1 vote
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Join the BOTWC newsletter for the latest in news & culture!

By clicking Submit, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Newsletter Signup
Skip to content