Speaker to share story of survival at annual Mad Hat Tea

Published 3:04 am Saturday, March 16, 2019

The women of First Baptist Church Whatley Street are resuming an old tradition when they host Mechelle Stephens for their Mad Hat Tea next Saturday.

Organizer Dorothy Johnson said this traditional event was put on hold last year after the women’s group lost Ethel Robertson, who founded the tea, and several other members. This year they are calling the event the Mad Hat Tea and Empowerment Hour.

The special guest is an author and spiritual speaker who wrote “Unmasking,” the autobiographical account of how she struggled to hide the scars left behind from molestation, promiscuity and domestic violence beneath a façade of normalcy.

Stephens details the string of painful events that not only robbed a little girl of her innocence, but shattered her self-image to pieces. She said she wrote the book to offer survivors the courage to stop hiding in the shadow of the shame.

“I first met Mechelle at my granddaughter’s brunch when she graduated,” Johnson said. There were 26 young ladies, black and white, and they were captivated.

“I became friends with her because she and my daughter go to the same church, and I’ve been wanting her to come to Alabama,” she said. “After going through all of that, and aging, she is married, part of a church, and she helps three counties in Atlanta with the sheriff’s department of police, domestic violence victims.”

The event – to which women are encouraged to wear their favorite hats – is set for 12:30 p.m. on Sat., March 23, at First Baptist Church Whatley Street. The program will be followed by refreshments. There is no charge, and all are welcome, Johnson said.