“Mama Said”

A mother can inspire and imprint generations of her descendants. In the matriarchal south, we have traditionally passed our wisdom along through our mothers. Often profound statements begin with “Mama said.” Because my own mama was an influential high school teacher who inspired generations of students, in a reversal of the ordinary, people often tell me what my mama said even though she passed away years ago and retired even longer ago. A former student of hers told me that around 1979, she told his class that the advent of the computer spelled the doom of communism because communist governments would be unable to control communication. You might not remember the status of computers in 1979, but there were no personal computers when Mama said that. She hated communism and fought her own personal war on it through years of teaching the state-required “Communism” course to ninth graders. That course ceased being taught when we thought we’d won the Cold War. I can only imagine how she would react to the state of affairs in 2021, but I digress. Mama’s words were prophetic and profound at the time. Computers would change the world of communication and it would be very hard for governments to contain it. What she could not have foreseen was the absolute power that the purveyors of the digital world would wield or the myriad ways the new technologies would be manipulated to sow deceit and discord. The glittery promise of the brave new world turns out to have been fool’s gold. Never before has it been more important than now for mothers to wield the power of story to pass along the wisdom and truths that have been passed from generation to generation for centuries. This blog is dedicated to the wisdom of mothers everywhere, but in particular to that of Betty Reeves Palmer.

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