Doolittle Red Hat Divas – Living life out loud
Mother’s Day motivates us to savor the joy in the loving relationship most of us share with the first, and most important, woman in our lives.
There are few organizations in which this celebration takes on more meaning than among members of the Doolittle Red Hat Divas. Formed by participants in the Doolittle Community Center’s senior citizen program, these lively ladies embody their stated objective to “Live Life Out Loud.”
“We are an international organization (with chapters) all over the United States and in over 30 countries worldwide,” said Doolittle Red Hat Divas founder Lucille Bryant, who also carries the title of Queen Mother. “Our main purpose is to dress up in large red hats, our purple outfits that represent royalty, and get together as sisters and have fun, fun, fun! We focus on friendship, love and sisterhood, and you have to be at least 50 years old to become a Red Hatter.”
Recently, while celebrating the National Red Hatter Society’s 12-year anniversary at Arizona Charlie’s, Bryant acknowledged that her involvement with the organization happened by chance.
Recalled Bryant: “It was bizarre. A lady, whom I had never met before, approached me as I was leaving the senior citizens center and said, ‘You can do it.’ I replied, ‘Do what?’ She said: ‘You can organize us. There is a group of ladies who want to be organized into the Red Hat Society. We need somebody to organize us.’ I asked her if she was referring to the ladies I always see at parades and different events wearing big red hats. She smiled when she realized I was somewhat familiar with the organization. One of her friends, Ida Johnson, who is also a Queen Mother in another chapter of the Red Hatters, gave me some written information on the organization — and we had our first official meeting on August 25, 2005. I organized them, and when you organize a group you become the founder and Queen Mother.”
There are currently 50 active members of the Doolittle organization, and an even longer waiting list of ladies eager to join. A sister organization, the Pink Hat Divas, is comprised of women who are not yet 50 but are nonetheless in sync with the philosophy of having fun and serving the community.
“The Pink Hatters wear pink hats and lavender clothes and are under the age of 50. When they turn 50 years old, we ‘reduate’ them — not graduate — and officially bring them into the Doolittle Red Hat Divas,” said Bryant. “We have such a wonderful time and hold our own activities such as Christmas Around the World, Hawaiian Luau, pajama brunches, Night at the Movies, and trips to see shows on the Las Vegas Strip — just to mention a few. Usually, on Mother’s Day, Commissioner Lawrence Weekly has a luncheon for us.”
The Doolittle Red Hat Divas say the organization, which has several chapters in Nevada, is culturally diverse despite a membership that is all African-American. In their work, they strive to disprove the stereotype that black women are unable to work together for a common goal. “We practice sisterhood,” said Bryant. “Our motto is, ‘Spreading love is our fame and having fun is our game.’ I tell all of our members when we come to gatherings, it is all right to disagree in order to agree.” Also active politically, the divas recently lent their support to Sen. Harry Reid’s re-election bid by taking part in a counter-demonstration at a Tea Party rally in Searchlight.
As Queen Mother, Bryant is viewed as a community leader; in that role, she is often called upon to dispense practical and spiritual advice to other women. Optimism is her overriding theme.
“My message to other mothers is to stay encouraged and believe in yourself,” she said. “Teach your children to believe in themselves and tell them that they can be whatever they desire to be in this world. With hard work and dedication, they can see their dreams become reality. Hold on, because we have been through trials and tribulations and we are going to come through these tough economic times.”