As Mother’s Day approaches this coming Sunday, moms around the nation should be getting pampered and appreciated by their loved ones. On this day in 1946, the American Mothers organization gave Emma Clarissa Clement its “Mother of the Year” honor, the first Black woman to receive the award.
Clement, the granddaughter of an escaped slave, lived in Providence, Rhode Island and came south to attend Livingstone College in Salisbury, North Carolina.
Clement, 71, when she received the award, had accomplished much as a mother, civic leader and religious educator in the state of Kentucky. The widow raised four sons and three daughters, four of whom went on to become college professors.
All seven of the Clement children graduated from Livingstone College as well, which is closely affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. The late Rufus E. Clement, the sixth and longest-serving president of Atlanta University, was one of Clement’s children.
Upon winning the award, Clement accepted the honor on behalf of all Black mothers. She continued working in the state for the A.M.E. Zion church until her passing in 1952.
The American Mothers organization is an offshoot of the Golden Rule Foundation, founded by Eleanor Roosevelt, Sara Delano Roosevelt, Mamie Eisenhower, JC Penney, and Norman Vincent Peale. The organization recognizes mothers from all walks of life who have used the role to provide inspiration and instruction to the nation’s future.