While most moms were preparing to celebrate Mother's Day with loved ones, racial justice groups around the country were busy bonding Black mothers out of jails so they could spend the holiday weekend with their families.
Black Mama's Bail Out has bailed out more than 300 Black moms. The organization is part of a national movement to end mass incarceration in America
The group relies on public donations of over $1 million to pay bail for women who can't afford their bail.
One of those women, Shalice Johnson, was locked up two years ago for the crime of bringing her three children with her to the probation office.
"Children are not allowed in the office because of everybody's charges and situation is different," Johnson told theGrio. "There's some pedophiles in there and they don't want kids there for the safety of your children and the safety of other people."
Johnson had a tough choice to make: "I didn't have a babysitter. I was stuck between a rock and a hard place not reporting to my probation officer or have my kids in the system because I done left them to go report in," she told theGrio.
Johnson took her children with her but she was not allowed inside the probation office with the children, which meant she technically missed her appointment.
As a result, she was jailed in lieu of $2,000 bail - an exorbitant amount for a struggling mother of three.
To complicate her situation, jailers gave Johnson a pregnancy test during the booking process, and she learned that she was pregnant with her fourth child.
Sitting in jail pregnant and preparing for Mother's Day without her three children took its toll on her.
"I was empty," Johnson remembers. "I was depressed. I was crying. So many things going through my mind. I felt lost without them,” she said.
When her public defender told her an organization was bonding her out of jail for Mother's Day, she was skeptical.
"My public defender came to [my] cell and was like, 'There's this organization that's gonna bail you out for Mother's Day. Now, I don't know how real it is, but they are just saying that they got your name off a list," Johnson told theGrio.
"Is this really happening? Is this for real? Why are they willing to risk their money to have me on the streets with my kids? And they didn't know me from anybody."
Johnson was bonded out the next day and she was home with her children before noon.
Today, NBO groups are bailing out EIGHT Black mamas and caregivers in #Maryland. And they're hoping to free a total of 20 before the end of week!
— #FreeBlackMamas (@NationalBailOut) May 6, 2019
Black Mama's Bail Out say they have bonded out 70 mothers in time for Mother's Day this year.
"Black women are some of the fastest growing populations of incarcerated people in this country," says Samantha Master, an organizer with Black Mama's Bail Out. Master spoke to theGrio from a jail in the Washington D.C. area where she was busy bailing out yet another mother.
"Moms are the glue that holds communities together," says Master. "We see women arrested for everything from protecting themselves from their abusers, to sex work and survival 'crime.' Our record has shown that the majority of women we bail out their cases are dropped. Some people are held for weeks, sometimes months. We just got out a woman on Monday who was in jail for a year for $100."
Johnson is grateful for organizations like Black Mama's Bail Out, which brought her and her children closer together.
"I couldn't walk to the bathroom without them being attached to me. They hadn't slept in days until mommy came home. I wasn't sleeping without my children. Once I reunited with them it was just the best feeling ever."
80% of women in jail are mothers. Last year, we bailed out 150+ mamas to reunite them with their families for #MothersDay. Here is one of their stories.
— #FreeBlackMamas (@NationalBailOut) May 9, 2019