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Women Reveal How Their Mothers Shaped Them

Malika Saada Saar

To mark the beginning of Black History Month, we wanted to dig a little deeper into the personal histories of some of our African-American MAKERS. For many of us, our history begins with our mothers. So, in today’s MAKERS playlist, five MAKERS who have made impacts in fields from human rights and education to literature and business, talk about the women who taught them about strength: their mothers.

1. Malika Saada Saar, an advocate for women’s and girls’ rights, is the Executive Director of the Human Rights Project for Girls, a new effort focused on the human rights of vulnerable girls in the U.S. She talks about the sacrifices her mother and grandmother made to give her a better life.

“There was an insistence, a constant insistence, that my life be a good life.”

2. Dena Simmons is an activist and educator who is researching teacher preparedness as it relates to bullying in schools. She talks about where her strength comes from and why her mother is her role model.

“When I think about my mother’s story and all that she was able to overcome, I say to myself ‘there’s no excuse.’ “

3. Olivia Joy Stinson, founder of Pen Pals Book Club for Children of Incarcerated Parents, talks about growing up with a single mother who never let her struggles affect her children’s lives.

“Even as a single parent, she always somehow made it work.”

4. Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Color Purple, grew up in the South prior to and during the Civil Rights Movement, which had a major impact on her life and career. Her mother did as well, teaching her that she could be anything.

“As a child, it was just very clear to me that you could be woman and you could do everything”…

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