Thad Miller: A cut above the rest

As seen on WCBD – Count on 2, by Carolyn Murray

Thad Miller made history as The Citadel’s first Black barber in 1971, when Black and white cadets still got their hair cut by different barbers.

When he was hired, Miller recalled the higher-ups telling him he should get one thing very clear: that he would cut “the Blacks hair only.” At the time, there were only eight Black cadets at The Citadel, so Miller had a lot of free time, while white cadets lined up out the door for the white barber.

One day, a white cadet got tired of waiting. He sat down in Miller’s chair, and the white barber gave him the go-ahead. When Miller was finished, he remembers the cadet getting out of the chair and telling his friends “y’all need to try this guy, he can cut!”

51 years later, Miller is still cutting the hair of Citadel cadets, past present and future, among his many other loyal clients.

Jimmy Coaxum has been coming to the barbershop for most of his life and has built a special bond with Miller.

“Thad was more than just a barber who worked here,” Coaxum said. “We always thought of him as family.”

One of Miller’s more well-known clients is Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds. When Chief Reynolds was diagnosed with cancer, he turned to Miller for help through the process.

“He told me he was looking for a barber and I said ‘you don’t need to look anymore because you just found one.’ And he came over and got a haircut and he’s been coming by every two weeks ever since. And even before his surgery and what not, we would pray together and talk. We just had a privacy in here.”

Thad Miller

Savaad Miller has been coming to the barbershop his whole life, although he is still one of Miller’s newer clients compared to those who have been coming for decades. As his grandfather gives him a fresh cut, he says he might carry on the family tradition.

Whether Miller is cutting the hair of clients that feel like family, or actual family, one thing is clear: it is always a good time at the Family Barbershop.