Mel Long is more than a barber. He’s a community activist and his shop, Mel and Abe’s Barbershop, is the place to be for political conversations and voter registration.
Long got his start cutting hair when he was 13 years old.
“My dad started me off when I was 13. I’ll be 69 next month. I’ve been doing it that long. There were 14 of us. He chose me. I’ve got four brothers who cut hair. Nephews who cut hair. My son cuts hair. My nieces do hair. All branched off of my dad. He had so many children that it cost too much to take us to the barber, so he learned how to do it,” Long said. “He was a back porch barber.”
Long said he loves what he does because he gets the opportunity to meet so many people. He and Ibrahim Muhammad, also known as Abe, started the shop on South Seale Road in 1992. Since then, they have developed relationships with so many people. They also put on a community event every year. This year, that event is cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“One thing about a barber is he’s not just a barber. He’s a counselor, too. We do it all and hear it all,” he said.
Being in the middle of South Phenix City, Long said he gets the chance to hear from community members about what needs to be improved and also about the political scene.
“We have a lot of politics here. People running for office come here and talk,” he said.
It’s become a place for members of the community to meet those running for state and local office and to talk about what concerns them. One of the biggest things Long likes to offer the community is the chance to register to vote – a cause he feels very passionate about. During a previous election, he said they registered more than 200 people to vote.
“You’d be surprised the people who are 30, 40, or 50 years old who have never registered to vote. They’re ashamed to go to the courthouse, but they can come here to register and not be shamed,” he said.
As for services, Mel and Abe’s offers all kinds of cuts. They can even do some shorter women’s styles. Make an appointment by calling 334-298-5640.