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Dr. Dorothy Height’s Legendary Hat Collection Head to the Smithsonian


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NCNW - Chair Ms. Jones 1

NCNW – Chair Ms. Jones

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In celebration of its 80th anniversary, the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) revealed a “new agenda for a new age”, vowing to take urgent action around education, health, economic empowerment and public policy in an effort to build a stronger Black America.

During a press briefing before the organization’s prestigious Uncommon Height Gala, 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 the following objectives:

1. Educating and training of young women and girls, with a special focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)

2. Continuing NCNW’s historical focus on health concerns of the African-American community and promoting economic security, financial literacy and entrepreneurship

3. Developing new partnerships to encourage young African-American men and women to embrace values upheld by NCNW founders needed to build strong families and communities

4. Advocating for African-American families and communities through public outreach and increasing efforts of social engagement, civic participation and public policy

Oprah Winfrey, one of our esteemed Uncommon Height honorees, once said, ‘We can’t become what we need to be by remaining what we are,’” Jones stated. “We must continue to grow and evolve to address the changing needs of our society and people while continuing the legacy of our founder Mary McLeod Bethune and former president emerita, the late great Dr. Dorothy Height. We are more committed than ever to strengthen the African-American family and build our communities. That can only be achieved by education, economic empowerment, public policy and collaboration. As one of the oldest organizations dedicated to advancing opportunities for African-American women and their families, NCNW is an “organization of organizations” with 240 community-based and collegiate sections, 37 affiliates, connecting 3 million women worldwide. Jones said it is through its vast network that the organization will be able to achieve its goals with greater impact while attracting more young people to take on NCNW leadership. “It is only through working together that we are able to reach, influence and effect major change,” she said. “We are stronger together.”

Dorothy Height Hat Collection Goes on Exhibit

One of the first initiatives to support NCNW’s “Four for the Future” plan includes a three-city tour showcasing Dr. Dorothy Height’s legendary hat collection kicking 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.

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,” said the Honorable Alexis M. Herman, the former U.S. Secretary of Labor, close friend of Dr. Height and senior advisor to NCNW. “We hope to instill the same values in today’s young people.”

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

Babyface Honored

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NCNW – Babyface

NCNW presented the 2015 Uncommon Height Gala Crystal Stair Award to Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds for his outstanding achievements in the music industry and contributions as a passionate philanthropist. In addition to supporting other worthwhile organizations, including the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), he is a former national spokesman for Boarder Babies, an organization passionately supported by Dr. Dorothy Height. He has also helped raise significant funds for a transitional home, The Little Blue House, in Washington, D.C.

From its inception in 1998, the Uncommon Height Gala has presented various individuals with the Uncommon Height/Crystal Stair Award for exemplifying the spirit and tradition of Dr. Height through a lifetime of service to others. Edmonds joins a distinguished list of past honorees, including: Congressman John Lewis, Oprah Winfrey, Sidney Poitier, Catherine Hughes, Vernon Jordan, Dr. Johnnetta Cole, Quincy Jones and Marian Wright Edelman.

About NCNW
The National Council of Negro Women is a Washington, D.C. based international non-profit organization making a difference in the lives of women, children and families throughout the world through research, advocacy, and community-based services and programs. For more information, please visit

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