An Ode to The Mamas

Our mothers, ourselves. Hate it or love it, traits of the women who birthed and raised us are coursing through our veins. We move like them, think like them, get our talents from them…

Sure, we get it from our fathers too, but mothers are our first taste of what it means to be women. From how to do our hair and makeup or walk in heels, to how to be a friend, a warrior, a wife, a mom.

We love you, Mom. 

“She is able, and she knows it. We grow up hearing ‘you can do anything you put your mind to.’ It’s a phrase used so often I used to underestimate its weight, thinking it a canned response my math teacher would toss off when I said ‘I can’t do long division.’ But my mother’s belief in her ability is her  guiding principle. When she was a girl, she dreamed of becoming the editor-in-chief of Essence magazine. By age 37 she was. Later, she dreamed of purchasing an 18-room mansion in Bed-Stuy and converting it into a bed & breakfast. She did. But, nah, that wasn’t enough. Because she is constantly challenging the limits of her ability, 23 years later, she and my father now own five inns along the east coast, with another on the way. This woman is a force. A phenomenal woman who believes, whole-heartedly, that she is not just capable of her dreams, but worthy of them.”

Glynn Pogue on her mother Monique

“What makes my mother special is how selfless she is, and how her goodness and positivity bleeds into the lives of others. What makes her unique, however, is how well she can nail an impression of someone else. She may look serious and dignified on the outside, but count on mom to put on a show when retelling a conversation she had with (or overheard from) someone else—hand gestures, facial expressions and all. She always leaves my sister and I in stitches. I’m confident that I get my quirky sense of humor and need for lightheartedness from her. ”

Stacy-Ann Ellis on her mother Hyacinth

“My mother is extremely stylish to the point where she gets dressed just to chill in the crib. There have been multiple times where I’ve seen her in a dress, shoes and holding a bag, seated in the living room and asked her, ‘Where are you going?’ ‘Oh nowhere, I’m just chillin,’ she’ll respond. It’s annoying, but I love it.”

Chindo Nkenke on her mother Chizor

“Debbie is classic, classy, old-school New York. A Bronx girl, born and raised. Demure, warm and welcoming with a strength that pulsates just beneath the surface. Her style timeless and understated. Her speech articulate, with hints of vernacular. She is lingual—Spanish speaking, Arabic learning. Adventurous, yet down to earth. Ever evolving, learning and taking care of everyone around her. So much of who she is, coils through the strands of my DNA.”

Aja K. Riddick on her mother Deborah

“My mom is everything. I’ve never met another being that is so giving or selfless. She has this inimitable quality of bringing everyone she loves into her orbit, spreading her warmth and wisdom. Some might say that my mom’s giving nature is the result of her traditional Southern upbringing. But I know that her generous spirit comes from her mother and my grandmother’s mother, women who gave their energy, prayers, and time selflessly. She is my greatest source of strength and joy. Every time I’m with my mom, whether I’m laying across her bed seeking advice or we’re catching up on a reality TV show, I leave feeling fulfilled, ready to take on the world with the courage she helps me realize.”

Kennedy Williams on her mother Robbie

“superhuman. goddess. light bearer. truth speaker. heart home. life giver. power house. teacher. beauty. grace. spirit shaker. mother. mother. mother. mother. mother. mother. mother. mother. mother. nine times over and for countless others. Samiyyah is every woman. and every woman prays to one day be a fraction of Samiyyah.”

Qimmah Saafir on her mother Samiyyah

“It’s been over 20 years since I’ve lost my mother and sometimes Mother’s Day can still be hard. Even so, I do try to find a way to honor her every year. My mother was brilliant, curious, beautiful, hilarious, bold, creative, and would never let me get away with anything less than my best. I love this picture because it was our “ritual.” Her taking my braids or twists down, moisturizing and re-doing.  I think this type of “ritual” is something many Black mothers and daughters can relate to. When I look at this picture I think it says so much, not just about my mother’s love and care for me, but also about the beauty of a mother’s love in those everyday moments. I cherish every moment I ever got to spend with her, especially those everyday regular type of moments. You never realize, but those moments stay with you forever. Those moments are love.”

Aja Burrell Wood on her mother Linda

“My mother is the hardest working, most dedicated person I know. She’s always valued education and chasing the thing that will set up your foundation; she instilled this in me. I saw her push tirelessly through pharmacy school while working and being a full time mother. Often, when she did not have a babysitter, she would take me to work with her and create a little sleeping palette on the floor in the back for me. I was supposed to be asleep, but I would sneak out to watch her work. Those moments ingrained in me the importance of always pushing through and never giving up on your dream. She will never know how much those moments meant to me.”

L’Rai Mensah on her mother L’Tanya