Celebrating the Legacy of African American Mothers

Note: The following is excerpted from a book celebrating the legacy of the Black Church: Beyond the Suffering.

A Mother’s Lasting Impression

Some historians have depicted the African American mother as so beaten down by enslavement and racism that she was therefore unable to provide a positive role-model in society and the home. Black Church history tells a very different story. Despite their suffering, mothers left a lasting, positive impression on their children.

Lucy Dunn was ninety years old when Mary Hicks interviewed her in Raleigh, North Carolina. She shares the standards and premarital counsel that her mother provided when Lucy fell in love with Jim Dunn.

Because purity was so central to her family, Lucy’s mother would not allow Jim to walk Lucy to the gate unless she was sitting there on the porch watching. After a year, without ever having kissed, Jim finally proposed—asking her mother for Lucy’s hand in marriage.

Premarital Counsel

Lucy’s mother told Jim that she would have to talk to Lucy and then let him know.

“Well all that week she talks to me, telling me how serious getting married is and that it last a powerful long time. I told her that I know it but that I am ready to try it and that I intend to make a go of it, anyhow.”

The next Sunday night, her mother informed Jim that he had her permission to marry her daughter. He was so excited that he picked Lucy right up out of her chair there in the moonlight on the porch and kissed her right before her mother who was crying with joy. The next Sunday they were married in the Baptist church at Neuse. Lucy had a new white dress, though times were hard.

Lucy offers a beautiful testimony concerning their marital relationship.

“We lived together fifty-five years and we always loved each other. . . . And though we had our fusses and our troubles we trusted in the Lord and we got through. I loved him during life and I love him now, though he’s been dead for twelve years.”

Her mother’s protection of Lucy’s purity, her pre-marital counsel, and her interaction with Lucy’s future son-in-law all strikingly display the impact of a godly mother. Lucy and Jim’s marriage, for richer for poorer, for better for worse, in good times and bad, provides a shining example of marital fidelity.

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What relationship commitment lessons can we learn from Lucy’s mother, Lucy, and Jim?

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