More than 150 leaders of Mocha Moms, the national organization for stay-at-home mothers of color, visited the White House, Feb.16, 17, for a “Moms Briefing” and tour. Actress and mother Karyn Parsons also took part in the event.

The program is among the events hosted by the White House in celebration of this year’s theme for National African American History Month, “Black Women in American Culture and History.”

Officials from several agencies within the Obama Administration participated in a series of panels, including Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. Jackson, a mother of two sons, is the first African American to head the country’s top agency for environmental concerns. She also serves on President Obama’s cabinet.
Kuae Mattox, national president of Mocha Moms, moderated the forum, which included a Twitter party from the West Wing of the White House with members online and White House Director of Public Engagement Jon Carson. She said the moms posed “very thoughtful questions” regarding work-life balance, obesity, affordable health care, mortgage refinancing, entrepreneurship and education.

“Our mothers are working hard to raise children with strong values and a firm educational foundation while making important decisions about their own lives that will affect their families, particularly in these challenging economic times,” Mattox said. “We were thrilled to have the opportunity to hear, up close and personal, how this administration is addressing some of the issues that matter most to us.”

“The White House had a built-in audience in the Mocha Moms with highly educated and highly motivated women who are eager to learn about policies and resources that can help them and their communities” Mattox continued. “They also wanted to hear our opinion on issues.”

On Friday, 350 Mocha Moms and their families from around the country toured the East Wing of the White House. African-American history was the tour’s focus, Mattox said, which culminated with a performance by the North Carolina A&T State University Choir.

“It was an historic milestone for our organization,” said Mattox. “The invitation from the White House helped to validate us, as mothers of color and particularly mothers of color who stay home. It was a humbling experience.”

Mocha Moms was founded in 1997 by four African-American mothers in Prince George’s County. Currently, the organization has 100 chapters with more than 3,000 members in 29 states, and continues to address the changing needs of mothers of color at home and in the workplace.

The group, which welcomes moms of all backgrounds, focuses on strengthening marriages and families, promoting self-care, education, advocacy and community service. While many members do not work outside the home, Mattox said a growing number of Mocha Moms are exploring family-friendly work options.

“The primary mission of Mocha Moms is to support and encourage women of color who are making parenting a priority in this season in their lives,” she said.

Maria Morales

Special to the AFRO