Famous and Infamous Moms
Mother Teresa, Rose Kennedy, and other notable mothers

by Beth Rowen

Migrant Mother
Dorothea Lange's photo, "Migrant Mother"
Mother's Day is the one day when we take time to express our love and gratitude for the women who have devoted their lives to making ours safe and happy. Here's a list of mothers who've achieved fame not only for their many diverse accomplishments, but also because they have distinguished themselves in their roles as mothers.

Political Matriarchs

Coretta Scott King
After the 1968 assassination of her husband, Martin Luther King, Jr., Scott King carried out his legacy by continuing his crusade for civil rights. She created the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, Ga., and she fought for 15 years to have him honored with a national holiday. She also devoted much of her life to children. In fact, the American Library Association named an award in her honor. The Coretta Scott King Awards recognize African American authors and illustrators whose children's books "promote an understanding and appreciation of the American Dream."

Rose Kennedy
She buried five of her nine children, raised a president, two U.S senators, and presided over one of the most famous families in American history—all with elegance and dignity. "I looked on child-rearing not only as a work of love and duty but as a profession that was fully as interesting and challenging as any honorable profession in the world and one that demanded the best that I could bring it," Kennedy once said. When she died at age 104, she had 28 grandchildren and 41 great-grandchildren.


"God could not be everywhere and therefore he made mothers."

—Jewish Proverb

 
Hillary Rodham Clinton
After weathering eight years in the White House and Bill's series of humiliating sexcapdes, Hillary Clinton emerged from her husband's shadow and forged her own political career, having been elected to the U.S. Senate from New York as a Democrat in 2000, becoming the first first lady to be elected to public office. Despite enduring immense pain and endless scrutiny, Clinton has raised a seemingly well-adjusted, level-headed daughter, Chelsea.

During the 18 month-long Monica Lewinsky scandal, the First Lady lived her personal life in a very public forum. While enduring immense pain and endless scrutiny, Clinton managed to maintain her professional and personal integrity. Despite her husband's series of sex scandals, she has raised a seemingly well-adjusted, level-headed daughter.

At the 1996 Democratic National Convention, Clinton said, "For Bill and me, there has been no experience more challenging, more rewarding, and more humbling than raising our daughter. And we have learned that to raise a happy, healthy and hopeful child, it takes a family, it takes teachers, it takes clergy, it takes business people, it takes community leaders, it takes those who protect our health and safety, it takes all of us."

In her 1996 bestseller about child-rearing, It Takes a Village and Other Lessons Children Teach Us, Clinton explains that children's developmental needs are linked to society—a society that must come together as a village to provide children with the tools necessary to mature into responsible, compassionate adults.

When It Comes to Benevolence, Some Mothers Are in a Class of Their Own


Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa
Born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, this Albanian-born nun touched millions with her missionary work aiding lepers, the blind, the disfranchised and the terminally ill. In 1948, she established the Order of the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman-Catholic congregation of women dedicated to serving "the poorest of the poor," especially India's lowest castes.

Mother Teresa's selfless devotion earned her a Nobel Peace Prize and truly made her a spiritual mother to the downtrodden and an example for us all.


Mother Jones (Mary Harris)
Always passionate about the labor movement, the tempestuous Mother Jones dedicated her life to it after her husband and children died in an epidemic in 1867. As a founder of the Social Democratic Party and the International Workers of the World, she organized miners, whom she called "her boys," as well as garment and streetcar workers, and fought against child labor.

She looked like a kindly grandmother, which belied her toughness. Living by the motto, "Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living," she spent a number of nights in jail, was said to use "unwomanly" language, and once dared a gunman hired by a coal company to shoot her. At the same time, however, she held a very traditional view of women: their importance was in the home.


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