By Eric D. Graham BASN columnist
Updated: August 30, 2011

NORTH CAROLINA, (BASN)—You’ll never see a football game on television without seeing some Black athlete proudly looking into the camera and waving after scoring a touchdown saying “Hi, mom!!”

Why? Because she is the Great Black Mother.

Yes. The Great Black Mother. The Mother of Civilization. The Goddess of the Universe. God’s Greatest Creation. The Black Woman.

Her near presence has inspired the whole entire world.

Her ability to inspire, in fact, was seen and heard recently during the 2011 NFL Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony on August 6th, in which Richard Dent, Marshall Faulk, Deion Sanders, and Shannon Sharpe all gave praised to the one we all know as the Great Black Mother.

But why do we call her the Great Black Mother? Is this simply a myth or is it reality?

Defining the “greatness”

Besides, what makes her so great?

She is great because she has the ability to make something out of nothing.

Shannon Sharpe tried to explain this during his emotional Hall Of Fame enshirement speech when he described his late-beloved Grandmother.

“See, the guy that did this bust here, he went to school for that. He’s trained to bring clay to life with his hands.” Sharpe said. “It’s my turn to bring Mary Porter to life with my voice. It’s time for me to give Mary Porter a face for all those that don’t know who she is.

Despite 14 years in the NFL, three Super Bowl rings, 815 catches, 10,060 yards and 62 touchdowns, Sharpe only wanted the world to know how great his grandmother was and what she meant to him.

By definition, the term “GREAT” is an adjective that means marvelous, high in rank, and in position, noble, proud, accomplished, high-minded, long-continued, and wealthy.

But even this definition, isn’t sufficient for the Great Black Mother.

Why? Because between her legs, all of the great prophets, rulers, scientists, doctors, revolutaries, teachers, and even athletes have came and will eventually come.


She is the one who gave birth to the one “they” called Jesus, “THE CHRIST”.

Yes, the Great Black Mother.

The Shrine of the Black Madonna

She is the one, who is secretly worshipped throughout the globe.

Yes, she is worshipped, revered, and praised.

Even the Pope, himself, kneels down and prays to her in his private chamber.

Yes. She is the Great Black Mother. The Real Madonna, who is blacker than a thousand midnights. She is not the MTV material girl, who tried to hi-jack her name and was shamefully seen kissing Britney Spears for shock-value.

Oh no, she is the true Black Madonna.


And despite her short-comings, we will always be eternally connected to her. Because while in her womb, she cared for us for nine months providing nourishment for our bodies. And when we were born, it was her big breast that we suckled on to grow stronger. And as we grew older, she molded us, shaped us, caressed us, loved us, read to us, sung to us, taught us, and prayed for us. She, in fact, is, in her most righteous state, the closest thing to God, we will ever know.

For the record, I am not trying to paint a perfect picture of Black motherhood. I know there are some bad Black mothers out there due to situations and circumstances in this imperfect world, who have neglected their children, aborted their children, abused their children, and even killed their children.

For these very reasons, I think there should be free parenting classes formulated and offered in order to help a new generation of Black women be better mothers in churches, mosques, hospitals, schools, and community centers throughout the country.

We also need some of those “old school” Black Grandmothers to offer their expertise on how to care for our children, how to encourage our children, how to hold our children, how to raise our children, and how to love our children from a traditional African holistic perspective.

With that said, in front of that large Hall of Fame crowd in Cannon, Ohio, Shannon Sharpe tried to express in his own words, that “old school love” that was given to him by his Grandmother, which propelled him to NFL “greatness.”

“What do you say about a person that gives you everything but life?” Sharpe said of his Grandmother Mary Porter.

“How do you start to say thank you, granny, for a woman that raised nine of her kids and your mom’s three, and she sacrificed more for her grandkids than she did her own. My grandmother was a very simple woman.” he added.

” She didn’t want a whole lot. My grandmother wanted to go to church and Sunday school every Sunday. She wanted to be in Bible study every Wednesday. The other days she wanted to be on a fishing creek.”

But why was Sharpe’s story about his Grandmother so important?

The Love of a Mother

Because as a nation, especially this new generation of young Black parents (myself included), needed to hear about what sacrifice, faith, love, and dedication can accomplish even during times of hardship. We needed to hear a rags to riches story. We needed to hear a good love story.

Why? Because God is love.

And sometimes, we as Black people need to fall in love with ourselves over and over again.

Plus, this new generation of BLACK MOTHERS, needed to hear that despite poverty, hardships, and single motherhood, love conquers all.

Yes. I know this may shock a lot of people but the truth is the truth.

And for this reason only, the scripture tells us to “Honor our mothers…so that our days will be longer.”

But unfortunately, we, they, us have failed to follow these simple instructions.

Promoting negative images

And now we see it daily, especially on television, in music videos, reality shows and even in the movies, where our most prized possession-the Black woman is portrayed in such a negative fashion.

Yes, through Hollywood propaganda some of us have grown to hate Black women. As a result, now we only see them as whores, prostitutes, bitches, video vixens, baby-mommas, gold-diggers, strippers, and Basketball wives.

Oh yes, Hollywood has given us Big Momma’s House, Madea, Tammy, Nene, Omarosa and even Queen Latifah in “Bring The House Down” to laugh at. And even though these subtle images being implanted in our minds seem innocent, they make it easier for us to hate Black women and devalue them.

I know not all images of Black women are negative. But, Hollywood has a history of making Black women look foolish. And in some cases, Black women have made fools out of themselves for fortune and fame.

I know many people may be reading this article in disgust and disappointment. Some of you even may be asking yourself, after all of this, how could I still describe the Black woman as God’s greatest creation?

“She is a woman plus she is Black.” some may stupidly say.

Others may foolishly say, “The fact that she is Black proves she is cursed. Besides, nobody loves Black women. Not even Black women love Black women.”

The Self-Hating Black Woman

In the August 2008 edition of Essence magazine Kierna Mayo addressed this very issue in her well-written article entitled “Black Women Behaving Badly.”

“Sociologists point out that each of our lives leaves an imprint on our collective sisterhood; how we treat one another has a ripple effect that extends far beyond the women directly affected.” stated Mayo, an Essence contributing writer.

“Ask yourself: Have you ever looked another Black woman up and down? Checked out her clothes, her body, her face, her hair and secretly sized her up as less than you? Have you ever laughed about another Black woman behind her back? Talked about her to your girls? Spilled her secrets? Have you ever had a silent thought, even for a spilt second, wishing failure on a Black woman at the job? Is bitch a regular word in your vocabulary? Whenever that stringer barrels out of your mouth, who is most likely to get stung? Be honest is it a sister?”

These are questions all of us must ask ourselves when dealing with Black women.

Because these are some of the subconscious thoughts creeping out of our minds after watching Black women scream and holler on Jerry Springer. These are some of the thoughts of little Black girls, who secretly watch Maury and see Black women crying and begging Black men to take care of their children. These are some of the thoughts of future Black athletes, who have already decided to date white women exclusively after seeing Black women cursing and fighting on Basketball Wives. (Read my previous article on BASN titled The Topic That Won’t Go Away).

Disrespected and Devalued

I know what you are saying, this is just entertainment. You are taking this thing too far. You are examining this thing a little too deeply. Lighten up, a little bit. It is not that serious.

But it is that serious; just consider how First Lady Michelle Obama has been treated despite her education, eloquence, beauty, and grace. Look at all the ugly and racist names she has been called.

Look at how Nafissato Diallo, a hotel maid in Manhattan from Guinea, has been treated by the media after accusing former International Monetary Fund President Dominique Strauss-Khan of sexual assault?

Even without going to trial, the world has already been convinced that she is a liar, a prostitute, and a gold digger.

Why? Because their overall thought process is rooted in white supremacy and black inferiority. In their opinion, they didn’t have to look at the facts, or review the evidence. The fact, that she was a Black woman was enough. Besides, why would a rich and powerful man like Strass-Khan want to rape a “filthy” African like Diallo?

While examining the Strauss-Khan Diallo alleged rape case, don’t forget the Psychology Today article written by Satoshi Kanazawa entitled “Why are Black Women Less Attractive than Other Women.”

Yes, in the White House on Pennsylvania Ave., to the magazines on the newsstands, to the high-definition televisions in Caucasian homes and even in those tall skyscrapers that seem to be touching heaven, the Black woman is disrespected and devalued.

Shamefully Admission

Maybe, this was one reason why Deion Sanders, with tears in his eyes, shamefully admitted as a teenager that he had been ashamed of his mother during his Hall of Fame induction speech.

Sanders said he developed this attitude about his mother after playing for a wealthy, all-white youth football squad called the Fort Meyers Rebels.

“..there is something inside of me, mama, that I never told you.” Sanders confessed.

“That I never could admit, and I’m going to share it with all of you… I played for a youth team called the Fort Myers Rebels and they blessed me. They took me all over the country to expose me to things, to expose you to things. Everybody on their team, their parents owned something.” Sanders said.

“Their parents were doctors or lawyers or the chief of police. It was that type of organization. Me and one of my friends were the only African-American kids on the team. It was a very affluent team, and I was ashamed of my mama because my mama worked in the hospital.” he said.

“She cleaned up the hospital, and I was ashamed of my mama who sacrificed, who loved me, who protected me, who gave me everything”

Sanders continued to explain how one of his friends mocked him because he saw his mother pushed a cart in the hospital.

“I was ashamed of my mama because one of my friends in high school, he saw her in a hospital one night pushing a cart, and he came back and he clowned me, he ridiculed me and he mocked me because of my mama.”

Despite Sanders’ shameful admission that he was embarrassed by his mother, she still was his inspiration when he created a character known as Primetime in his dormitory at Florida State that would eventually make him a multi-millionaire.

“I was tired of seeing her (my mama) go to work and come home all tired. I said I’m going to be rich one day…..Sanders said.

“And in my dormitory room at Florida State, I created this image. This thing that you can imagine. You could love him or you could hate him, but he was Primetime.”

“I pre-rehearsed the saying because I knew I had the substance. I knew I had the goods. I knew I had the work ethic, but I needed to secure myself enough that my mama would never have to work another day of her life.”

Sanders sounding more like a preacher continued to explain how it was his mother who fueled his “greatness” on the football field despite all the naysayers and haters.

“When you’re provoking change, there are going to be naysayers. People don’t condone what they’ve never seen. But when you talked about me, media, guess what, behind (me) I saw my mama.” Sanders boldly said.

“When you wrote about me, when you naysayed me, when you criticized me, l looked right through your TV and I saw my mama.”

“When you told me what I couldn’t do, when you told me what I didn’t do, when you told me what I would never be, I saw my mama pushing that cart. When you told me I was too small, I wasn’t educated enough, I saw my mama because I made a promise.”


Yes, what was supposed to be a ceremony to celebrate the career athletic achievements of four of the top football players in the history of the NFL, quickly turned into an award show honoring the GREAT BLACK MOTHER.

It became a reoccurring theme. One player after another expressed their love for the Great Black Mother. The praise for the GREAT BLACK MOTHER, in fact, echoed throughout the entire audience.

“Mom, thank you for your love, for your tough love…” said Marshall Faulk, who lived in the notorious 9th Ward of New Orleans, Louisiana.

“Thanks for teaching us the skills to take care of ourselves. Every person in our family knows how to cook, clean and knows how to wash clothes because of you.”

Faulk continued to express his gratitude for his mother’s commitment to hard work by explaining how she would work two or three jobs to make sure his brothers always had and how he used her work ethic on the football field to be successful.

“I know, I have your blood, your skin, and even your good-looks. But one thing that I’m most proud of, is acquiring your work ethic. Thank you, for making me the MAN, I am today.”


Even though Faulk’s and Sanders’ speeches were excellent, Shannon Sharpe’s speech lifted up the spirit of the GREAT BLACK MOTHER higher than any of the 267 names, who had been enshrined in the Hall of Fame. (Read Sharpe’s entire speech on BASN)

“The one story I want to leave you with, to tell you why I became this person: When I was 12 years old I told my mom, “Mom, I’m going to have some money one day, and I’m going to buy you a Mercedes, and I did.” Sharpe said.

“When I came and I asked my grandmother, what do you want? She always called me her baby. She never called me by my name. I said, “You want me to buy you a car and teach you how to drive? She said, no, son, I don’t want that. I said, “Granny, do you want jewelry? She said, son, I want a decent house.”

And I’m thinking well, my grandmother wants 7,000, 8,000 square feet. But then I knew my grandmother, knowing her like I know her, after pausing for five or six minutes. I said, “Granny, what is a decent home?” And I remember it like yesterday, and it was 30 plus years ago.” Sharpe recalled.

“She said, son, I want a decent home and her words verbatim is: “Son, I want to go to bed one night,” and she said, “I want God to let it rain as hard as He possibly can and I want him to let it rain all night long.” She said, “I want to wake up and not be wet.” That’s a decent home for my grandmother. That’s all she wanted. For 66 years, my grandmother never went to bed and had it rain and not be wet the next morning. I remember those days of putting those plastic coats on the bed….”

Fighting back the tears, Sharpe continued to reminisce about living in that thousand square foot cinder block home with cement floors and a leaking roof in Glennville, Georgia, which drove him to want a better life.

“I remember putting pots and pans on the floor to catch the rain water. The very pots and pans that we’re going to cook in the next day. I remember that. It broke my heart that my grandmother … she’s got two grand boys that are making millions of dollars, and she wanted a house that wouldn’t leak. That’s all she wanted……” Sharpe said.

“That’s what drove Shannon. That’s what got me here…..Because everything I’ve done in my life, I’ve tried to please you (Mary Porter).”

To be honest, Mary Porter’s name will forever be remembered at the Pro Football Hall of Fame along with all of the GREAT BLACK MOTHERS past, present and future, who were honored, will be honored, and had been honored by their sons.

Believe me; they all are extremely proud of you all.

Job well done.

Long live the spirit of the GREAT BLACK MOTHER!!!

Truly, She is worthy of praise.