Motherhood and a Movement
Moms around America were spoiled, lauded, even glorified on social media as we celebrated Mother’s Day in May. Yet, how many people know about the organization that ushered this special day into our consciousness and ensures its special place in our hearts today? That organization is American Mothers, Inc. I was thankful and honored to be part of this glorious celebration of motherhood as the 2019 DC Mother of the Year® at the 84thAnnual Convention of American Mothers, Inc., held here the last weekend in April. American Mothers, Inc. is a nonpartisan non-profit organization which owns the trademark to “Mother of the Year®” and is the official sponsor of Mother's Day. Nominations for 2020 are being accepted now through September 15. Visit http://americanmothers.org/nominate for more information.
As we gathered at The Mayflower Hotel, a real ‘momraderie’ formed quickly. We came together as strangers, but we all answered to the same name, ‘Mom’. On the first night, Mayor Muriel Bowser attended the Legacy Reception, where she was honored as a 2019 Mother of Achievement for her leadership of the city of Washington, DC. During the second day of the Convention, each of the 46 state honorees in attendance shared heartfelt accounts of her motherhood journey in a three-minute speech centered around the theme, “America, this is your mother speaking…”. We were white, black, Hispanic, stay-at-home moms, corporate managers, entrepreneurs, educators, doctors, and civil servants; we were Christians, Muslims, undeclared, and otherwise — all with a message for our country. As we told America what we wanted her to know, we were sometimes stern, humorous, wistful, and sorrowful, but always we extolled the virtues of commitment, tenacity, resilience, and most of all, love. Wecheered, we cried, and we sat still in awe and admiration of the redemptive stories.
This annual celebration, and fellowship, among mothers is rooted in the humble intentions of one Anna Reeves Jarvis who sought to restore love and friendship among families affected by the Civil War by setting aside a day to celebrate these ideals. The special day of observance took hold and evolved into a national holiday known as Mother’s Day with support from Eleanor Roosevelt in 1931 as she launched a nationwide Mother’s Committee to help to elevate the importance of this occasion and as a way to help mothers in need. Through its Golden Rule Fund, the J.C. Penney Company sponsored this committee which would later be known as the Golden Rule Mother’s Day Committee. In 1935, Sara Delano Roosevelt, Honorary Chairwoman of the American Mothers Committee of the Golden Rule Foundation, presented Lucy Keen Johnson as the first American Mother of the Year®.
Since 1935, American Mothers, Inc. has recognized an “admirable” mother selected from among the State Honorees from across the 50 states, District of Columbia and the territories of U.S. Virgin Islands and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. This recognition is intended to serve as “inspiration to the nation that would represent a mother’s unconditional love, inner strength, and courage.” Over the years, American Mothers Inc. has honored mothers of diverse backgrounds, but in a move that was certainly progressive for the time, American Mothers named Mrs. Emma Clarissa Clement of Kentucky, a Black mother, as the 1946 National Mother of the Year®. Mrs. Clement was a civic leader, educator, and minister’s wife. Her great-granddaughter, Rebecca Bond, attended the Convention gala this year. Ms. Bond who knew of her great-grandmother’s honor and was quite proud of it, did not realize the organization still existed. She was very pleased to be in attendance and learn more about American Mothers.
Golden Rule Grants are also awarded each year to select non-profit organizations which provide services that benefit mothers and children. The Golden Rule Movement is integral to the American Mothers philosophy as a means to “empower, educate, and inspire women to lead by example and model kindness and compassion through volunteerism and acts of service in their local communities”.
Ahead of this year’s Convention, American Mothers, Inc. launched a nationwide study to find out what matters to moms through the American Mothers Project. Preliminary findings indicate the top three concerns are access to mental health services and resources, affordable childcare, and quality education for all children. America, your Mothers have spoken.