Hampton Roads Community News

Dr. Dorothy Height’s Legendary Hat Collection On Tour


A three-city tour by the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) showcasing the legendary hat collection of Dr. Dorothy Height  will kick off in the spring of 2016. The tour called “Messages of Our Mothers” will travel across the country and serve as a forum to dialogue with young African-American men and women about the values and messages Black mothers share to help children succeed and survive in society. The conversation will focus on the core values of respect, education and financial stewardship as a vehicle to build strong families and communities.

The tour is one of the first initiatives to support NCNW’s “Four for the Future” plan that was revealed during the recent  80th anniversary celebration of the women’s organization.

Calling for a “new agenda for a new age,” NCNW  has vowed to take urgent action around education, health, economic empowerment and public policy in an effort to build a stronger Black America.

During welcome remarks at the 14th annual Uncommon Height Gala recently, NCNW National Chairperson Ingrid Saunders Jones shared the organization’s new forward-looking vision under her leadership.  She called the series of strategic priorities “Four for the Future” and outlined objectives in  educating and training young women and girls for the future workforce; continuing NCNW’s historical focus on health concerns; promoting economic empowerment and entrepreneurship; and developing new partnerships to encourage young African-American men and women to embrace the values of NCNW founders

“Our overarching priority is to build on our legacy of advocating for African-Americans through public outreach and increasing the efforts around social engagement, civic participation and public policy review,” Jones stated. 

Honorable Alexis M. Herman, the former U.S. Secretary of Labor, close friend of Dr. Height and senior advisor to NCNW, explained the purpose of the hat collection tour. “Dr. Height’s mother, Fannie Burroughs Height, always stressed the importance of dressing for respect.  It was a lesson and value that she carried with her, her entire life. We hope to instill the same values in today’s young people.”

Select hats from the collection of 250 will represent eight themes from Dr. Height’s life: historical; gifts; special occasions; NCNW moments; organizational partnerships; halos; her favorite color – lavender; and lastly, the future.  “The Future” features only one hat – the last hat made especially for Dr. Height that she was never able to wear because of her death in 2010. The red hat is symbolic of her vision and hope that NCNW future generations would embrace the organization’s core values.

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Following the “Messages of Our Mother” tour, the hats will go on display at the Smithsonian Institute, Herman announced.

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