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Grandeur & Grace – Portraits of Black Women in their Church Hats

Feb 05, 2022 — Mar 31, 2022

This beautiful exhibit, in recognition of Black History Month in February and Women’s History Month in March, features the completed portraits, the featured hat and the history of millinery work in Polk County.

Grandeur & Grace: Portraits of Black Women in their Church Hats

Polk County artist Ronald Malone was inspired to paint a collection of women wearing their church hats after seeing a family out shopping one Sunday. The dynamics of how this family interacted with the grandmother was mesmerizing to Malone. A signature member of the Florida Watercolor Society, Malone partnered with the Luster All African American Heritage Museum, to recruit 21 women to sit for a portrait in their church hats. Realistic and colorful, the portraits include local women from Lakeland, Bartow, Mulberry, Haines City, Fort Meade and Winter Haven.

In recognition of Black History Month in February and Women’s History Month in March, the Polk County History Center will host an exhibition of the completed portraits, the featured hat, and the history of millinery work in Polk County in the first-floor gallery. The exhibition ends March 31.

Black History Month at Polk History Center

  • Opening 2/5 Grandeur & Grace: Portraits of Black Women in their Church Hats.
  • 2/26, 11 a.m., Grandeur & Grace Hat Chat: Celebrate Polk County artist Ronald Malone and several of the Hat Ladies featured in the exhibit. The program will include reflections from the artist, a program on hat etiquette and a meet and greet with the Hat Ladies and Winter Haven milliner, John Fynn, whose hats are among those worn in the portrait series. No RSVP is needed, but we request that you wear your favorite hat – that includes everyone, men, women and children.
  • 2/26, 2 p.m., Book Signing: Award-winning local author Charles B. Warren will be joined by Clifton Lewis to present the compelling story of Lawrence B. Brown, a man born into slavery who became a successful entrepreneur during Bartow’s boom period. The signing will feature readings by both Warren and Lewis as well as a brief question and answer period. Books will be available for purchase with profits benefiting the continued operations of the L.B. Brown House Museum.

Visit for more information.

You may also be interested in the LB Brown House, or our blogs on history books about Central Florida, and must see historical sites.



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