With Mother’s Day having just passed, I can’t think of a better time to highlight the works of a powerful organization of mothers in the North Minneapolis community.
A Mothers Love (AML) hosted its first Black Women’s Empowerment Summit on April 27 at the Urban Research and Outreach Center. The six-hour event featured panel discussions, poetry readings, raffles for self-care baskets, and stations set up for Black owned businesses to market their products.
The goal of A Mothers Love is simple; “bringing back the village.” They believe it takes a village to raise a child. The AML mission statement is “If you save a mother, you save a child. If you save a father, you save the family. If you save the family, you save a community.”
The team of Minneapolis raised, single mothers have been working tirelessly since its birth in 2017 to make a change in their community, starting with reducing instances of gun violence. Last summer AML organized a march against gun violence that included walking through the streets spanning from Broadway/Lyndale-to North Commons Park area, the scene of a shooting homicide, to KMOJ radio station and back to CUB Foods on West Broadway.
That same summer and fall, the mothers spent every Friday and Saturday night walking through downtown Minneapolis in their bright pink shirts with a Black image of a mother and a child on the front, and “Bringing Back the Village” on the back. The fathers in their group wore Black T-shirts. AML provided resources for housing, employment, GED programs, and mental health referrals. They are best known for giving love, encouragement, support, and prayer to the residents of North Minneapolis.
Back at the empowerment summit, the day began with a continental breakfast and a panel discussion featuring Jasmine Boudah, the author of the book “Mothering through Pain”, Lartiste Graham, and Mercedes Thomas, a member of A Mothers Love, who shared her experience of learning self-love despite a painful childhood in the foster care system.
The lunch panel featured candidate for St. Paul City Council and Minneapolis NAACP vice president, Anika Bowie, Minneapolis school board member, Kimberly Caprini, Artiste Mayfield, and Brenda Johnson a leader devoted to interrupting the “cradle-to-prison’ pipeline. One young woman in particular, North Community High School’s Taylor Butler, was invited to share her story as a teenager at North playing basketball. The audience was very impressed with her grace and intelligence.
Guests were able to share their vulnerabilities in a safe space where they were given nothing short of support and “A Mothers Love.” The highlight of the day, for me, was the enlightenment I received by Kenya McKnight-Ahad, founder of Black Women’s Wealth Alliance one of my mentors, and the encouraging remarks we received from City Council Member Andrea Jenkins whose poetry was food for the soul.
Some of my takeaways from the Black Women’s Empowerment Summit were, according to McKnight-Ahad, I owe it to myself to chase my purpose in life and it is my job to decide my worth, not anyone else's. Second, we (Black women) need each other. With that being said, a win for one of us should be a win for all Black women, according to Jenkins. And finally, I can never be too weak to stand up for myself or too strong to be openly vulnerable. I learned this final lesson from every woman in the room who poured out their hearts and released their burdens.
In the midst of so much pain from the gun violence in Minneapolis, we can always still find a way to show love when we get together for a greater purpose. Alisa Clemons, founder and director of A Mothers Love, said she wants Black mothers and Black woman to know that what we endured yesterday and what we endure today does not decide our future. We decide our future.
As a young adult, looking at the powerful Black women in that room, and listening to the stories they shared gave me a great sense of pride in who I am. Please support this organization's efforts to empower Black mothers, Black women, and Black families. The first thing you can do is activate in your community and intervene in the lives of the young people in your neighborhoods. Help a mother and child find resources for progress and, most importantly, help bring back the village.