Mother's Day is traditionally thought of as a time when children honor the selfless women in their lives for the sacrifices they made in raising them. Not many may know that the holiday was originally founded in 1870 in reaction to the violence of the Civil War.
During the month of May, BET and the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network are partnering to reclaim the true meaning of the annual holiday. They are calling all mothers to action against gun violence in their new campaign, Mothers on a Mission Against Urban Gun Violence.
BET Networks Chairman and CEO Debra L. Lee and Sharpton kicked off the campaign on Thursday. Cleopatra Pendleton, the mother of Hadiya Pendleton, the 15-year-old who was shot and killed in a South Side Chicago park, also joined to help bring awareness to the new campaign.
"Hadiya was important to me in life. I fought for her in life. And I will fight for her in death," Pendleton said.
Pendleton held back tears as she was still visibly heartbroken by the death of her daughter. But she sternly proclaimed again that she was on a mission.
"I am not stopping," she said.
Pendleton also spoke about a foundation that she and her husband, Nathanial Pendleton, launched in memory of her daughter to work with police stations and schools and other community organizations in Chicago to provide spaces for children to remain productive outside of school hours.
Lee added her own personal remarks, first about the pain of losing her own mother and then speaking of the urgency to take more action in our communities against violence that continues to take the lives of youth and tear apart families.
"We have to do it now before it happens to the children of other mothers," Lee said.
She briefed an outline of a five-point plan for mothers to enact to help end gun violence:
1. Find a local anti-violence organization and volunteer time and donate money to its cause.
2. Join other mothers in asking churches to stay open to the youth and provide conflict resolution programs for teens to take part in.
3. Call, email and meet with local legislators and urge them to pass laws reforming gun control.
4. Work with National Action Network and take part in anti-violence programs they already have in place, such as their Occupy the Corners program.
5. Reach out and mentor the youth in your community.
As part of the campaign, mothers are called to log on to BET.com on Mother's Day to leave a personal message about how other mothers can be a beacon of peace in their communities.
Participants are also encouraged to tweet messages of peace using the hashtag #DISARM.
Sharpton added that Mother’s Day should be used for "real commitment" to the community and to bring "a real awakening."
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(Photo: John Moore/Getty Images)