They’re Moms to Black America

These women offer the type of large-scale love and guidance that calls for celebration this Mother’s Day. Consider this their card from the black community.

Angeles Echols-Brown; Jaspen Boothe
Angeles Echols-Brown; Jaspen Boothe KCET screenshot; CNN screenshot

Every May we take a Sunday to honor our individual moms. But what about the women who, whether or not they have children of their own, offer the spirit of motherhood to all of us? They use their platforms to deliver a steady stream of love (sometimes tough), guidance and care. They’re nurturers, providers and sources of plenty of inspiration. Whether or not they know it, these individuals are moms to black America in a spiritual and emotional sense, and it’s about time we wished them a happy Mother’s Day.

Toni Morrison

In her 83 years the novelist, essayist and professor has provided more inspiration and comfort to aspiring writers—and those who just like to escape with a wonderful book—than she could ever imagine. Her writing earned her a Nobel Prize, but her role as a mother to an entire generation of African-American literary types is every bit as noteworthy. 

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee

Shown here comforting the parents of slain teen Travyon Martin, this longtime member of Congress has dedicated every year since she was first elected in 1995 to making life for the people of her inner-city Houston—and all Americans—better.

Oprah Winfrey

Need someone to look up to? This talk show host turned all-around media mogul and philanthropist isn’t a bad choice. She provides opportunities for the girls at her South African boarding school, and for the rest of us she’s a source of words of wisdom—and now, thanks to her Super Soul Sunday, spiritual insight.