Hazel Harris at her 80th birthday party. (Walter Thompson)


At the classy Create The Lab venue, Hazel Carmack Harris invited nearly 200 people to a masquerade party for her 80th birthday.   However, instead of celebrating her eighth decade, the retired educator and community advocate saluted four people she described as “making the city of Los Angeles a better place to live.”

Sen. Diane Watson and Mrs. Harris her birthday party. (Walter Thompson)

While the recipients – which included Congresswoman Diane Watson – were surprised and humbled to be honored, a longtime friend of Lady Harris simply smiled and said, “That’s just like Hazel, always encouraging and recognizing others.”

And that character trait is reflected in her lifelong commitment to Christ and His church, her 35-year teaching career with LAUSD, her active involvement in the Red Hat Social Society, and her founding of the renowned Fire and Ice Fashion Modeling Troupe comprised of males and females from age 6-to-99-years-old.  Whatever the activity, Mrs. Harris can be counted on to promote others instead of herself.

Her pre-birthday celebration included hosting a luncheon for the Red Hat Social Society. (Walter Thompson)

Regarding reaching this milestone, the birthday lady said, “The Lord has given me a good life and I still got my mind. My motto is ‘always, each one, teach one for humanity, growth and success for our future prosperity.’”

Lady Harris began modeling as a young adult. (Courtesy photo)

That’s a philosophy that Mrs. Harris applied whether instructing 6th graders in South L.A. or while serving as a master teacher with “Teach for America,” which she also did for a number of years.  When it came to the field of education, she said, “It was a career and I loved it! I enjoyed encouraging the children and still enjoy helping people achieve their greatest and best potential.”

Another area that brings Lady Harris enjoyment is “researching and reading the history of African Americans who have contributed so much to change the world and make life easier for most of us,” she insisted.

Her commitment to this belief led her to develop a “Traveling Black Invention Museum,” which contains more than 150 authentic artifacts.  “These precious items are patented and dated with individual photos,” Mrs. Harris explained, to educate viewers on the extent of creations and contributions of Black people.

As for the future, she will likely continue seeking opportunities to uplift others. She said, “I think that it’s helpful, not only for me and my family, but for the world!”