LIMA — Wearing something extraordinary on their heads, they honor the shoulders of the women on which they stand.
The Hy Ho Club blended a civil rights lesson with black culture and style Saturday, as members held their third annual “Wearing Our Crowns” luncheon at Bradfield Community Center.
The day included a performance by Elite Steppers Dance Team, Linda Washington’s presentation on women in the civil rights movement and a hat style show.
Women involved in the civil rights movement often don’t received their due, Hy Ho Club President Brenda Frazier said, and so the club wanted to focus on unsung accomplishments and the work that was required for a successful movement.
“Because of the 50th anniversary of the civil rights movement, and this also being Women’s History month, we wanted to highlight those unsung heroes,” Frazier said.
While President Barack Obama recently unveiled a statue of Rosa Parks in the U.S. Capitol, Parks represents many women whose names aren’t so readily known, Frazier said.
There are history lessons in women such as Fannie Lou Hamer, a voting and civil rights activist who helped organize the Mississippi Freedom Summer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and Constance Baker Motley, a civil rights activist, who was the first black woman accepted at Columbia Law School. It was the first of many firsts, including the first black woman elected to the New York Senate, the first woman and the first black woman to hold the position of Manhattan Borough president, and the first black woman appointed to serve as a federal district judge.
Two years ago, the club held a style show and talk with photographer Michael Cunningham, who authored “Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats.” The group has continued the theme, giving women a chance to wear their Sunday best on Saturday afternoon.
Iona Hamilton and Shirley Henderson, both of Lima, attended the lunch in their hats. Not Hy Ho members, they have always supported the club’s activities and scholarship fundraising. They knew club founder Letteria Dalton and still enjoy keeping her memory and mission alive, they said.
The hats are important, the women said. They connect generations of women together through the black church, and recall mothers and grandmothers who never left without hat, gloves, purse and handkerchief.
“We come from that generation,” Hamilton said. “It was called your Sunday best. They’re tradition. It’s part of our culture.”