I Was Just Thinking: Mamie Till Still Speaks for Black Mothers

By Norma Adams-Wade
Columnist

Images of Black men and women killed mainly by police scroll across the screen. Percussion and stringed instruments smoothly croon plaintive jazz music in the background. Rev. Dr. Sheron Patterson’s words pierce the sound as she boldly states the case for Black mothers.

Rev. Dr. Sheron Patterson

God made us mothers of a people who are othered. In the land of the free and the brave, it’s our kids winding up in graves.

Rev. Dr. Sheron Patterson is known for her passionate delivery of a Sunday sermon. This senior pastor of Hamilton Park United Methodist Church in North Dallas is known for rallying the public when there’s a social cause that needs attention and for being a “first” in many arenas. But the trailblazing woman of the cloth faced a recent motherly concern that she says stopped her cold. The experience forced this author of nine books to pen a poetic spoken-word message for all mothers of Black sons, and even Black daughters, who are forced to live in today’s world where she says their “pigmentation leads to criminalization.”

The spoken-word poem is “Concerned Black Mothers’ Anthem.” The Charlotte, N. C. native, wrote and recited the poem in a two minute, 34 second YouTube video, complete with music, historic and current videos, photographs, and lines from the spoken-word that flashes images. The anthem tells how iconic mother, Mamie Till, is a role model for modern mothers who grapple with fear when their Black sons and daughters go out into a world that fears Black skin.

Mothering while Black has always been complicated. Gotta teach our kids how to be assimilated and to not look threatening or make them feel ill at ease else our kids end up in the street under a policeman’s knee.

In an interview, Dr. Patterson, herself the daughter of a policeman and school teacher, said the piece began to form in her head and heart after one of her two adult sons told her about a recent incident where he was called the N-word as a car drove past her own home in Dallas.

This familiar media personality – who holds various degrees, serves on various boards, and is also a relationship counselor – said the conversation added to her foreboding as a Black mother. And it compelled her as an activist minister who has spoken out and taken stands following national racial incidents, including the killings of George Floyd, Botham Jean, and a number of other wrongful deaths of Black men and women by police and racist Whites.

“I want Black mothers to listen to this and be inspired and given hope,” Dr. Patterson said. She recalled stories of Mamie Till-Mobley, the heroine-mother of 14-year-old Emmett Till, brutally murdered by racist Whites in Money, Mississippi in 1955. Till-Mobley became an icon when she insisted that the public view her son’s mutilated body in an open casket before and during the funeral so people would see what hate does to Black people. Portions of Dr. Patterson’s spoken-word pay tribute to Till-Mobley.

They murdered your son down South, expected you to keep a closed mouth But you demanded an open casket and this nation blew a gasket Emmett was just 14 years old! That’s why your story will always be told Mamie Till, this is for you!

“Her bravery inspired me,” Dr. Patterson said of Till-Mobley. “I said Black mothers need a way to come together and vent our anger. I began to reflect on how she (Till-Mobley) can give other Black mothers encouragement to stay in the fight until America treats us right.” You may view the spoken-word video on Dr. Sheron Patterson’s YouTube page at Art Mosley is the music composer, producer, and percussionist. The Unity Tribe Music Group played the background music.

Norma Adams-Wade is a veteran, award-winning Journalist, a graduate of UT-Austin and Dallas native. She is also one of the founders of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and was inducted into the NABJ Hall of Fame.

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