History Has Proven That Mothers Have Been the True Backbone of the Black Family

Reggie Fullwood

Much like many of you that are reading this column, I cannot begin to express the gratitude, love, admiration and thankfulness I have for my mother, and all of the other mothers in my life.

Last Sunday was Mother’s Day, an American tradition that was created by Anna Jarvis in 1908 and became an official U.S. holiday in 1914, according to History.com.

According to MothersDayCentral.com, the ancient Egyptians held ceremonies and celebrations each year to honor the goddess Isis. To the Egyptians, Isis represented motherhood and fertility, and was believed to be the mother of Horus, who was considered to be the mythological ruler of Egypt.

Thus, Isis became the “mother of all pharaohs” and the celebration of Isis became a celebration of mothers. So mother’s day goes pretty far back throughout the world.

Don’t be mistaken, one day is clearly not enough to capture the love that we should be expressing year round.
Neither is a bouquet of flowers or a nice dinner enough to express your love for mom; but one day is enough to reinforce the love and appreciation that most of us share for our mothers.
Comedian Chris Rock once said that we are always recognizing mamas. Mamas get songs, mamas get cars and houses when their children make it big, mamas always get shout outs, and what do us fathers get – the big piece of chicken at dinner time.
He goes on to list a number of songs that have been written as dedications to mothers, but he points out that the only song ever made for fathers was “Papa was a Rolling Stone.”

Now that’s funny stuff, but very true at the same time. Mothers are the foundation of most families. Mothers are often the glue that keeps families and lives together. Who can you turn to when there is nowhere else to turn – mama.
For me personally, I tell people all the time that my mother and grandmother were the reasons that I am the person I am today. Having these strong women in my life made all the difference in the world. And for black women, the journey has been has been unimaginably difficult.
“Black women have the habit of survival,” said Lena Horne.

And while the strength of mothers certainly crosses racial and ethic lines, black women have certainly had to play a more prevalent role because of the history of African American culture in the United States.

One of the most prolific statements I have heard regarding the strength of black women was from W.E.B. Dubois who said, “I most sincerely doubt if any other race of women could have brought its fineness up through so devilish a fire.”

And how do you talk about Mother’s Day without acknowledging the strength and dedication of African American mothers throughout the years? Too often have black women had to the play the role of mother and father.

How many of us have mothers who pushed us to reach for things that they only dreamed of? Zora Neale Hurston said, “”Mama exhorted her children at every opportunity to ‘jump at de sun.’ We might not land on the sun, but at least we would get off the ground.”

The great African American writer, Alice Walker, once said, “And so our mothers and grandmothers have, more often than not anonymously, handed on the creative spark, the seed of the flower they themselves never hoped to see — or like a sealed letter they could not plainly read.”
My mother and grandmother were not college graduates, but stressed the importance of college to me on a regular basis. And like most mothers in inner-city communities, my mom may not know how to do calculus, but she made sure that I did.

And as I mentioned before, black women are certainly unique because of all of the challenges they have faced since the days of slavery. Working as field laborers, nannies to the plantation owner’s children, and even mandatory mistresses to slave owners certainly tested the will of black women and proved that sisters have had to go up the rough side of the mountain.

But despite the challenges and heartache, our mothers continue to encourage, motivate and understand us when no one else does.
I could go on and on about the value of strong mothers, but I will simply close with some of the lyrics from Tupac Shakur’s song “Dear Mama.”
He said, “Cause when I was low you was there for me, And never left me alone because you cared for me, And I could see you comin home after work late, You’re in the kitchen tryin to fix us a hot plate, Ya just workin with the scraps you was given, And mama made miracles every Thanksgivin.”

He added, “But now the road got rough, you’re alone, You’re tryin’ to raise two bad kids on your own, And there’s no way I can pay you back, But my plan is to show you that I understand, You are appreciated.”

Thank you mothers for being the extraordinary beings you are. And please remember to do something special for that mother or mother figure in your life.

Signing off from a local Florist,
Reggie Fullwood

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