As we continue our celebration of mothers and motherhood this month, we are reminded of the women who raised and entertained us over the years. They embodied the nurturing spirit of motherhood often while tackling social issues and balancing careers. These beloved television moms have made a significant impact in the African American community and beyond bringing their iconic characters to life:
• Phylicia Rashad’s Claire Huxtable gave us our first look at an HBCU-educated, successful married woman in “The Cosby Show.” She was a Black lawyer who was great at her job, marriage and raising her children.
• Julia was the first African American female lead with actress Diahann Caroll showing us single motherhood after being widowed. She played a nurse on the show (with her character’s namesake) raising her son in the ‘70s.
• Actress Ester Rolle brought Florida Evans to life showing a working-class woman who held blue collar jobs such as a maid and school bus driver while raising her children with her working-class husband in the Chicago projects. “Good Times” demonstrated that marriage and love was real and powerful among everyday Black couples.
• Louise Jefferson challenged stereotypes and showed us the first Black woman depicted in an affluent setting. She was able to live lavishly and become a philanthropist. The actress who played “Weezy” was Emmy Award winner Isabel Sanford, who at the time was the co-lead of the longest running sitcom of all time, “The Jeffersons.”
• Tracee Ellis Ross’ Rainbow Johnson has stepped in as the modern-day combination of all the past Black moms featured on television. Her “Black-ish” character has a successful professional career like Claire Huxtable and Julia. She lives an affluent life like Louise Jefferson and is a passionate mother like Florida Evans. We celebrate these moms as well as their kindness, courage and dedication to their craft. Be sure to follow our social media pages throughout May as we highlight some of the nation’s most beloved mothers and mother figures of yesterday, today and tomorrow.