A national movement supported by Black Lives Matter is helping to bail black mothers out of jail so they can spend Mother’s Day with their children.
The movement dubbed the “Black Mamas Bailout” aims to bail out mothers in cities across the country. Its organizers include the Atlanta-based LGBTQ Southerners on New Ground, Black Lives Matter and Color of Change, according to the group’s website and its tumblr page.
“This year, the week before Mother’s Day, SONG, in concert with a coalition of local and national organizations will join public defenders, impacted communities, and faith and spiritual institutions, to bail out as many Black mamas as we can from jail,” the group said on its website.
“The National Black Mama’s Bail Out Day Action is part of the growing movement to end mass criminalization and modern bondage. It is rooted in the history of Black liberation, inspired by the enslaved Africans and Black people who used their collective resources to purchase each other’s freedom,” SONG said.
“These women are among the 62 percent of people in jail who are there not because they’ve been convicted of a crime but because they can’t pay to get back to their lives as they await trial,” the Nation magazine reported.
One organizer told the magazine that black mothers have not been granted the title of motherhood and it was shredded due to “slavery.”
Arissa Hall, a national Mama’s Bail Out Day organizer and project manager at the Brooklyn Community Bail Fund said, “All mothers are not celebrated,” adding that this is especially true of women who struggle with poverty, addiction, and mental-health issues—in other words, the women who fill our jails. “Black moms especially have not been granted that title of motherhood,” she said, going on to describe how slavery shredded kinship bonds.
Other local fundraising efforts included Black Lives Tucson, which raised 71 percent of its goal as of Thursday. Lola Rainey, the organizer for that local group, wrote on the fundraising page, “This Mother’s Day, we are raising money to bring our Mamas home. The Mama’s Bail Out Day is rooted in the tradition of our enslaved ancestors who worked collectively to purchase their families’ freedom.”
Doris Stephenson, who was 20 years old, pregnant and the mother of a 4-year-old daughter when she was arrested on a probation violation, told the Atlanta-Journal Constitution after her arrest her first thought was of her young daughter.
“I had just taken my daughter to school that morning,” Stephenson said. “My first concern was what would my daughter think? What would happen to her?” Stephenson’s initial offense was writing bad checks.
A cookout is planned on Mother’s Day in Durham, North Carolina, for mothers bailed out, according to their Facebook page.
“We will be celebrating the homecoming of Black Mamas and caregivers who are released during our Bail Out Action with a community cookout in the park. Music, food, a bouncy house, and freedom!” the Facebook post announced.
Southerners on New Ground is still collecting donations for the Black Mama’s Bailout, and the Brooklyn Community Bail Fund is collecting those funds, according to the group’s website.
At least 18 cities are participating in the national movement, and 17 organizations including the Texas Organizing Project and Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, which are reportedly offshoots of ACORN.