Hats and Black History Month


I have a confession. My second favorite thing about Black History Month is the hat.

It’s superficial, I know, but I finally found an excuse to wear the kind of hats I remember from my childhood when all women wore hats to church on Easter Sunday.

Every February, I dedicate myself to wearing a hat on Sundays in honor of my African American sisters. Truthfully, I tend to forget the hat right up until the moment I walk into the sanctuary and remember its February again. I forgot so many times, I gave myself permission to wear hats in March, too. I started carrying hats around in my car during February just in case. Fortunately, my sisters understand my heart and overlook my forgetful tendencies.

Mom got in the act and dedicated her favorite hats to my cause. She saved her marvelous 1950s Jackie O-esque chapeaus and my kids designated them as vintage. Now I wear them to church in February. Or maybe March. You are invited to join me in this tip of the hat to the amazing sisters we all know and love.

So, what’s my #1 favorite thing about Black History Month? It’s the plays the kids at my church put on each year. There is something so inspiring about seeing small humans recite Dr. King’s Dream speech from beginning to end. Plus, there is always music, skits, costumes, and even original poems.

Not to mention the food that finds its way onto the big, long tables. The food could be #5 for me if I were to tell the truth about how much I love it when my sisters prepare turkey and homemade dressing and all the fixings, plus plenty of greens.

Number 4 is to be surrounded in the fellowship hall by laughing adults who have confidence because they lived through one of the worst toxins to ever poison American culture, segregation, and they lived to tell about it. When my brothers and sisters give me advice about hanging in there, I know they face down persecution and prejudice with dignity and fortitude and humility. They continue to stand strong, while embracing life and friendships with joy and oh-so-much faith.

The best thing Black History Month does for me personally is to remind me I am blessed to have friends with a kind of background that prepared “I have a hat. It is graceful and feminine and gives me a certain dignity, as if I were attending a state funeral or something. Someday I may get up enough courage to wear it, instead of carrying it,” said Erma Bombeck who was the newspaper columnist I turned to each day growing up.

Having the grace to cross the man-made, self-imposed boundaries of society to create friendships with folks from all walks of life is like an elegant, extravagant hat. It gives us all a certain dignity if we only have the courage to wear it.

Cathy Primer Krafve, aka Checklist Charlie, lives and writes with a Texas twang. Comments are invited at cathykrafve@gmail.com or on Facebook.