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Nordette Adams's picture

Maxine Nelson, 65, impressed me the first time I met her. She is an African-American resident of Pine Bluff, Ark., a retired nurse and feisty warrior for social justice. She is also a national board member of ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, and a member of the Arkansas School Boards Association.

More important, Maxine is the mother of five children, who she raised as a single mother following divorce, and she is grandmother to 17. She finished nursing school while raising her family.

I first saw Maxine on video asking former presidential candidate John Edwards questions about voting rights. I met her in January during a meeting about the Supreme Court hearing on Indiana's voter ID law. Like many Americans, Maxine thinks America is turning back the clock on voting rights, perhaps more concerned than the average American because she stays informed and remembers her mother's stories of voter suppression in the American South.

She told me about her mother, Irene Powell, 88, how she voted under Arkansas' old poll tax, but also how her mother introduced her to ACORN's work and gave time to the group's voter registration drives in the state. She described her mom as strong and independent.

As we spoke, I recalled my own mother going to the polls in New Orleans, La., with me in tow. I remembered staring up at her marking the ballot. I guess I must've been four or five years old. And she didn't stop her political action with voting. Talking to Maxine stirred other memories of my mom hosting a southern ladies' tea for a local politician in the late 60s, and I also recalled when she and other black teachers in New Orleans went on strike, not for more money, but to protest that black children didn't have adequate books and supplies. Then I wondered about my own life, my tendency to speak against injustice in my writing. I wondered how my mother's political leaning shaped me.

Next I asked other women about their mothers and politics. The "I Remember Mama Voting" campaign was born. You can get an idea of what that is at ACORN's website at this link, Moms. You'll find an article that includes the memories of other bloggers such as Kim Pearson, Lisa Stone, and MomsRising's own Donna Norton. In addition, you can read profiles from ACORN members about their mothers and political issues motivating low-income mothers to vote in the presidential election.

Most of all, you can take time this Mother's Day weekend to reflect on your own mother's political influence in your life or the influence of mother figures. When you do this, please write about it in your blog, and then link to ACORN's "I Remember Mama Voting" section.

I've enjoyed reading the memories of other women already writing on this topic and hope more will add their unique voices to this project. Anyone who has a memory of their moms and politics or a mother struggling can do the "I Remember Mama Voting" memory.

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