My friend, Delores, like many of my older friends, was preparing to move again. But this time she had more boxes, as her mother – a woman she deeply loved and admired- had recently passed away. Delores talked about how well the hats were made, how she wanted them to go to a school – a place where the art of making hats was taught and appreciated. I understood her dilemma. I had grown up in a small southern black community where a woman could not enter a church unless she had something on her head. These hats, however, were not “just something” you put on your head, but were crowns to give and garner praise as a woman put her best foot forward.
I, too, related to Delores mother’s hats as expressions of a community’s cultural identity, pride, dignity and strength.