What Would Mama Do: Save Our Sons and Daughters and Anti-Violence Organizing Among Black Mothers of Murdered Children in Detroit

Posted: 4 Nov 2017

See all articles by Melynda Price

Melynda Price

University of Kentucky College of Law

Date Written: November 1, 2017


This project takes up the question of how we understand activism among black mothers of murdered children as both historical and current forms political work in the context of the role of race and gender in U.S. politics. I focus on activism as both the move from grief to politics and the impact of these mothers on the political landscape in which they are active. Women’s use of their identity as mothers to effect change or as a mobilizing tool is not a new phenomena in the U.S. or globally, but the political construction of black motherhood has been fraught with arguments of pathology and in need of reform since its nascence in chattel slavery. Little scholarly attention has been given to this particular type of activism among black women and how it challenges our understanding of black motherhood and politics. Moreover the proximity of black mothers in recent incidents of racialized violence raises questions about the form that such activism may take in the era of hash tag politics.

This paper will offer a short history of the organization Save Our Sons and Daughters and the kinds of activities the organization focused on. Clementine Barfield, who founded the organization, is a significant part of the group’s work, not only because she was so critical in its creation but also because she was the primary spokesperson and leader throughout the life of the organization. I am currently thinking in multiple ways about how her work fits into existing conversations about race, gender, and activism. What is clear from the research so far is that Clementine Barfield and Save Our Sons and Daughters made significant contributions to our current understanding of urban peace and justice efforts and challenges the common images of Black mothers in this time period.

Keywords: black, motherhood, Save Our Sons and Daughters, Clementine Barfield

Suggested Citation

Price, Melynda J., What Would Mama Do: Save Our Sons and Daughters and Anti-Violence Organizing Among Black Mothers of Murdered Children in Detroit (November 1, 2017). 2018 National Conference of Black Political Scientists (NCOBPS) Annual Meeting, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3063708

Melynda J. Price (Contact Author)

University of Kentucky College of Law ( email )

620 S. Limestone
Lexington, KY 40506-0048
United States
859 257-5022 (Phone)
859 323-1601 (Fax)

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