Hundreds of distinguished women from across the country gathered to celebrate one another in the spirit of a common bond – their alma mater: Hampton University.
The 38th annual Hampton Ladies Luncheon took place August 4-5 at the Sheraton Columbia Town Center Hotel in Columbia, Md. and included attendees from classes ranging from 1944 to 2017, as well as currently enrolled students. Included in the over 300 attendees was acting Surgeon General of the United States, Rear Adm. Sylvia Trent-Adams, and keynote speaker Monique Ferrell, Director of the U.S. Army Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Office.
Ferrell, a 1985 Hampton graduate, spoke on her journey from the U.S. Virgin Islands to the Senior Executive Service of the U.S. Army – noting the importance of preparation, leadership and self-care.
In addition to the luncheon and keynote speech, activities during the two-day event included a tour of Washington, D.C. at sites such as the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, evening receptions at the Sheraton Hotel, and a trip to Arundel Mills Outlet Mall, among others.
According to luncheon organizers, this year’s event follows a decades-old tradition set by a small group of Hampton women from the Class of 1954 who wanted to create an opportunity for members of their class to reconnect. In 1979, after not seeing each other since the 50s, they met in the home of Dolores Rayfield ’54 and decided to host a luncheon. After a few months of planning, the first Hampton Ladies Luncheon was held at the White Flint Mall in Rockville, Md. with 13 women in attendance.
Bessie Session, one of the founding members of the Hampton Ladies Luncheon, wrote in 2000, “We have resisted the suggestion to change the name from ‘Hampton Ladies’ to a name that emphasizes our empowerment and status as African American women. We want to for just one afternoon each year not to care about the political issues or solving the economic and social problems of the world. We want to just be the beautiful and brilliant women that we are, coming together to be thankful for another very good year.”
This year’s event chairperson Jacqueline Antoine noted that the luncheon is a time for attendees to share memories of their “Home by the Sea,” reconnect, and simply enjoy a time of fellowship.
The Hampton Ladies Luncheon is held on the first Saturday of August annually and has been hosted in cities across the U.S. In 2018, the event will be held August 4 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
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