Mother’s Day

This spring Sunday is Mother’s Day. We went into our archives to share stories. Please enjoy.

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The HistoryMakersThe HistoryMakers

Addie Wyatts’ mother, Maggie Mae Cameron, c. 1944.

Labor leader Reverend Addie Wyatt (1924 – 2012) recalled her annual tradition growing up, with the help of the neighborhood kids: “When Mother’s Day came, I always wanted to do great things for my mother because I thought she deserved it. And she worked so hard and received so little. I learned to make flowers. I’d make roses and then I’d make… chrysanthemums. And I would box them up and get the children organized and tell them how we were going to make mother really happy for Mother’s Day. And I would send them up to the dime store. And they would sell their Mother’s Day flowers. And… when we would work during that period together… on Mother’s Day, we would give our mother twenty-five dollars. And I never realized until much later what twenty-five dollars were. But I would cut and sew and cut and make flowers for about three weeks. And… As fast as the children would go up to the dime store, they’d sell them out and have to come to get more.”[1]

Norma Jean Darden on the lap of her mother, Mamie Jean Sampson Darden (right), with her Aunt Norma and sister Carole (left), c. 1941.

Geraldine Rhodes Kennedy, manager of the Silver Belles dance troupe, remembered: “Mom’s Day was a real day, because we did everything for Mom, you know. She had a tremendous day on Mother’s Day… we put on a play. We cooked dinner… She’d go to church and come back and sit and we’d put on plays and all kinds of things.”[2] Model and entrepreneur Norma Jean Darden spoke of the delicious treats made for Mother’s Day: “My sister [Carole Darden] does all the desserts… for Mother’s Day we had apple pie that was just divine. And we had a double chocolate cake with raspberry frosting, very beautiful. And we had strawberry tarts.”[3]

Former Secretary of the U.S. Army Togo D. West, Jr. (1942 – 2018) told of the tradition at his church: “We had a tradition on Mother’s Day… We would wear a carnation or a rose… in our lapels to church. If your mother was alive, it was red. If your mother was dead, it was white. Now, each year, I still try to do that just because it makes me feel like I’m back home.”[4] Educator Virginia Edwards Maynor added that at her home church, Butler Presbyterian Church in Savannah, Georgia: “My favorite time of the year was Mother’s Day because our minister’s wife, Mrs. Patterson [Willie Mae Freeman], was an outstanding vocalist, and she would sing ‘Mother Machree,’ that was one of my favorite songs.”[5]

Art professor Della Hardman (1922 – 2005) shared the story of a memorable Mother’s Day for her: “Mother’s Day… [HistoryMaker] Andrea [L. Taylor] said, ‘Mom, can you pick me up at the airport at 10:30?’ I said, ‘Sure, I’ll pick you up on my way to church,’ …So I went to the airport at 10:30 and just as we were driving out, who should come running out the door, but my son [Francis Taylor, Jr.] from California. And… we hadn’t planned that. And there was Buddy, ‘Mom.’ I said, ‘Don’t do this. I’ll have a heart attack right here… at the airport.’ And he was only here for five hours. He had to go right back to California that day because he and Andrea had worked that out on the spur of the moment. And he brought me this little heart necklace which I cherish. And I have wonderful photographs of that surprise visit.”[6]

Left- Della Hardman with a bouquet of flowers, 2002. Right- Della Hardman’s three children (left to right) Andrea, Francis, and Faith, 2002.

We hope that this Sunday brings us other fond memories to savor for future Mother’s Days.

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The Student Brand Ambassador Program will begin in June 2021 and end in May 2022. Student Brand Ambassadors will work together in virtual sessions to develop individual projects and themes for The HistoryMakers weekly newsletters and social media campaigns as well as marketing plans to promote the use of The HistoryMakers Digital Archive at their schools. Applicants must be able to commit to working from June 2021 through May 2022 and will be required to submit weekly progress reports and participate in weekly conference calls. Those accepted will be paid $15/hour. The deadline to apply is 11:59 PM CST on Friday, May 21, 2021.
For more information and to apply, please click here: www.thehistorymakers.org/student-brand-ambassador.
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[1] Reverend Addie Wyatt (The HistoryMakers A2002.096), interviewed by Julieanna L. Richardson, June 1, 2002, The HistoryMakers Digital Archive. Session 1, tape 3, story 2, As a child, Addie Wyatt contributes to her family’s finances.
[2] Geraldine Rhodes Kennedy (The HistoryMakers A2007.267), interviewed by Adrienne Jones, September 20, 2007, The HistoryMakers Digital Archive. Session 1, tape 1, story 9, Geraldine Rhodes Kennedy remembers her childhood in Youngstown, Ohio.
[3] Norma Jean Darden (The HistoryMakers A2012.126), interviewed by Larry Crowe, May 14, 2012, The HistoryMakers Digital Archive. Session 1, tape 4, story 9, Norma Jean Darden talks about her menu.
[4] The Honorable Togo D. West, Jr. (The HistoryMakers A2007.054), interviewed by Larry Crowe, February 8, 2007, The HistoryMakers Digital Archive. Session 1, tape 2, story 8, The Honorable Togo D. West, Jr. describes his experiences of religion.
[5] Virginia Edwards Maynor (The HistoryMakers A2017.050), interviewed by Denise Gines, February 10, 2017, The HistoryMakers Digital Archive. Session 1, tape 2, story 6, Virginia Edwards Maynor describes her involvement at the Butler Presbyterian Church in Savannah, Georgia.
[6] Della Hardman (The HistoryMakers A2004.134), interviewed by Larry Crowe, August 19, 2004, The HistoryMakers Digital Archive. Session 1, tape 6, story 6, Della Hardman talks about her family’s support for her.

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