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African American Mothers

  • By: Angela Hattery & Earl Smith
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

In North America, mothers are caretakers of their homes, their partners, and their children. In many ways, African American mothers are no different from mothers of any other ethnic group, race, religious background, or class. They struggle, like all mothers, to raise healthy children who will grow up to be productive citizens. Yet, in the contemporary United States, African American mothers have a history and challenges that are unique. From their arrival on American shores in 1619 through today, the African American woman has been the bedrock of the African American family. Several particular, key markers—slavery, civil rights (the Jim Crow era), and the prison epidemic—have shaped the experiences of African American mothers.

Slavery

Although African American women were not legally able to form family unions during ...

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