May 16, 2024

AFJ Hosts Inaugural Mother's Day Celebration At Our Harlem Community Center

On May 10th, Avenues for Justice (AFJ) held our inaugural Mother’s Day Celebration at our Harlem community center. AFJ hosted mothers, caretakers, and guardians of AFJ Participants, along with our team and community members who are mothers. Having a young person entrenched in the legal system can be incredibly challenging, stressful, and lonely. Along with systemic issues, there is the mental impact, coupled with barriers for families navigating the criminal justice system. For mothers with incarcerated children, the burdens are overwhelming: financial, psychological, and emotional. All are exacerbated by court fees and fines, travel costs and loss of employment or educational opportunities. One in three families with imprisoned children may have to choose between buying food and court costs, according to a report by Justice for Families.

The Mother’s Day Celebration was organized by Harlem Court Advocate, Jalil, who felt that “mothers often do not get the recognition that they truly deserve, and Mother’s Day is a great way to show our gratitude and appreciation to them.” As a returning citizen, having been sentenced to 25 years to life, Jalil shared in our newsletter last year about the importance of second chances and how his mother “always showed up to support me and made sure I knew she was there with me throughout those 25 years.”

Our AFJ mothers and caretakers shared a meal together, catered by Charles Pan Fried Chicken, as they discussed the challenges they faced which includes, once released, their children having difficulty finding work, housing, and successfully reintegrating into society. All these burdens are borne by the mothers of our Participants. One of the mothers of an AFJ Participant read a poem to the group which focused on the challenges of raising her son in the Bronx.

“My mom was in town, and it was very special to have her meet with the AFJ team and mothers of our Participants. I felt like we created a safe space for the mothers to vent and communicate their true feelings, which is powerful.” ~Julia, Harlem Court Advocate, pictured above on the right with her mother.

“The Mother’s Day event was beautiful. Our mothers got to know each other, break bread together, and share their experiences with our program.” ~Brian, Manager of Court Advocacy. 

The mothers spoke a great deal about advocating for their children and the support needed to do that successfully. Articles have described the parent-child dynamic when the parent is incarcerated, but the experiences of parents whose children are in prison or facing incarceration, however, have not been adequately examined. It was therefore important for AFJ to provide our mothers with a space where they could discuss this dynamic and feel appreciated and supported for their lived experiences. We look forward to hosting more forums and support groups for the caretakers of our Participants with a focus on navigating through the stigma associated with incarceration that affects both the incarcerated individuals and their loved ones.

Special thanks to BlackRock and Woke Media for donating gift items for our mothers and caretakers for Mother’s Day.


Stay up to date with AFJ!

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.