A mother’s love has the power to heal, set free, protect, nurture, restore, and even transcend time and space.
Mother’s day is a day to honor, reflect upon, and remember the women who have mothered us as a part of a family unit, a church family, or even a “mother” of the community. And while we’ve revisited the Black TV moms who have taught us lessons over the years, this Mother’s Day, you should also consider watching these films that showcase Black matriarchs and the impact that they have on their families and communities. See below for six important recommendations.
Daughters of the Dust
Daughters of the Dust tells the intergenerational story of Gullah women living on the sea coast of South Carolina that shares the rich history of the Gullah peoples. There are themes centeing history, spiritual inheritance, and the tug-of-war that often happens between understanding the past, while embracing the future and new beginnings. Watch it on Prime Video.
In Beloved, not even death can separate a mother from her child’s spirit. Based on the novel written by Toni Morrison and produced by Oprah Winfrey, Beloved examines the unbearable anguish that many Black women endured as mothers. Mothers, who knew that their children would be bought, sold, raped, and used as property. Based on a true story of a woman named Margaret Garner, who killed her two-year old daughter when she realized that her family was about to be sold back to slavery. In death, she thought that she was freeing her child from the harsh realities of slavery. In the movie, Beloved, Sethe (Oprah Winfrey), a young mother (Lisa Gay-Hamilton), kills her baby girl when U.S. Marshals come to take her and her family. While this movie was very misunderstood upon its release, it truly gives a glimpse of the trauma mothers and their children experienced during slavery-and even after the Emancipation proclamation. Watch it on Amazon Prime Video.
In Our Mother’s Gardens
In Our Mother’s Gardens examines the oftentimes very complex relationships between mother’s and their daughters. This documentary starring Tarana Burke, Latham Thomas, Tina Farris and many others takes a raw and candid approach to discussing mothers. Its relatable, home-style interviews make for a very endearing appeal. Watch it on Netflix.
Directed by John Singleton, Baby Boy takes viewers on a journey through the life of a 20-something “baby boy”. Baby Boy has themes based loosely on what author Aaron Fields has coined as the “Baby Boy syndrome” which largely supports the ideology that the “only thing that the black man can control is himself”. In the movie, Jody lacks focus and doesn’t have a sense of responsibility, and still lives at home with his mother. It’s not until his mother chooses herself, and her own joy that Jody begins to realize that it’s time for him to grow up and be a real man and take responsibility for his actions. While he has to overcome some hardships, he learns in the end, that his mother only ever wanted the best for him. There’s also an underlying theme that suggests, when mother’s “baby” their sons for too long, that they become weak-willed men. Watch it on The Roku Channel or Amazon Prime Video.
Spike Lee’s Crooklyn is a semi-autobiographical drama that shares the day-to-day life of a Black family living in Brooklyn. While the movie is candid about Black girlhood, Black family cultural norms, and even explores the dynamics between Black married couples; it’s the burden that Carolyn (Alfre Woodard), a teacher and mother carries that stands out most. This sense of responsibility and burden is cyclical and later transfers to Troy (Zelda Harris) after her mother’s death. There are powerful lessons in this movie on the notion that women have more stress in their lives when their husbands and or partners do not have their priorities in order. Watch it on Hulu.
Claudine is a definite must watch for Mother’s day because it truly depicts a mother’s need for love and to be desired as a single mother. In Claudine, Claudine (Diahann Carroll) is a beautiful mother of six kids, and she happens to be on welfare. When she meets Roop (James Earl Jones) , a garbageman, they hit it off immediately, but matters of socioeconomics begin to rear its head. Not only does this movie beautifully showcase the sacrifices that mothers make for their families, it also showcases a mothers need to be taken care of sometimes, too. Claudine also closely examines the oppressive welfare system and how it was originally intended to keep the Black male figure absent from the home. Watch Claudine on Roku.