Through the thunder and lightning
Oh when the weather gets rough now
Ooh ya got to hang on now girl
When it gets real rough, rocky and windy
Love is on the way oh
Don’t let it go now
-“My People,” Erykah Badu
Happy Mother’s Day! Throughout human history, moms have taken in the cold, nursed the sick and championed for the poor and helpless in society. Mothers so effortlessly tend to the needs of others that it’s easy to forget how much of an impact their selfless goodwill has had on society. There are many, many more amazing women in the world worthy of note, including my wonderful, loving mother, but these three stood out in my mind as particularly selfless and caring maternal figure heads, who helped give a voice to those who didn’t have one:
Eunice Kennedy Shriver: Shriver, sister to JFK, saw inherent value, dignity and ability in people who were often dismissed and ignored. She helped get the Special Olympics off the ground by funding it and the first set of international games, played in 1977, showed the world that people with developmental and physical disabilities have a lot to teach us all in the way of courage and determination.
Gwendolyn Brooks: In a neighborhood overrun by crime, the poet Gwendolyn Brooks saw possibility and hope. Unlike most of her neighbors, the elderly woman did not flee when gang members used her porch. She brought food and provided hospitality to young people who were used to being shun to feared. She encouraged them to write poetry, to work through their frustrations and desires and feelings, which led to the rap movement — a movement that has revolutionized the Black American voice. A little kindness goes a long way.
Dorothea Lange: The mid-20th century female photographer captured poverty and injustice in the face of heavy opposition. She showed America the hardships that Japanese Americans, former neighbors and colleagues, were subjected to in internment camps during World War II. Lange willingly gave up her prized Guggenheim Fellowship to continue her work in exposing Americans to the truth behind the horror-ridden internment camps.
Happy Mother’s Day to my mother and to all the women who have taught society the importance of caring for one another and for sticking up for those who need us most. Thank you for being such wonderful role models. I only hope I can be as good as you all some day.