Free banquet honors single mothers in community

By Gus Bode

Recent statistics show record year for births to unwed mothers

Live piano music resonated about the Old Main Room of the Student Center as area single mothers enjoyed a sophisticated banquet Tuesday evening to pay tribute to their hard work.

The Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and Black Affairs Council sponsored a free banquet to recognize struggles facing single mothers. Tealights flickered on tables strewn with pink and white rose petals.


Fatimah Muhammad, a research fellow at the Global Media Research Center, was the keynote speaker for the event. As a single mother herself, she said events like these enable single mothers to feel recognized and understood.

“You have to have a little extra endurance and put off some things in my life to put her life first,” Muhammad said of her 4-year-old daughter, June. “Every day, I get to be a heroine.”

The National Center for Health Statistics released its most recent statistics Friday, which showed a record number of babies were born to unwed mothers in 2004.

The center reported the 1,470,152 children born to single mothers in the United States increased 4 percent from the previous year. In 2004, unmarried mothers accounted for 35.7 percent of all births in the country.

Muhammad said she doesn’t feel alone considering the support of many other single mothers in her area. It is necessary, she said, for single mothers to have interdependence and accept others’ help.

“Single mothers aren’t islands,” Muhammad said. “They work together. As much as you can do, you can’t do it all.”

Ariande Chambers, a sophomore from Waukegan studying athletic training, has a 3-year-old son, Xavier Alexander. She said though she is often forced to ignore her own needs for her son, he pushes her to be a better person.


“It motivates me to finish school and make my life better so my son will have opportunities,” Chambers said. “I want him to be proud of me when he sees me.”

After the dinner, Anaia Howell sat with her 3-year-old son, Hasan Mitchell, while he thoroughly enjoyed a piece of cake. She said she was grateful for the respect.

“We don’t get recognized on the campus a lot,” said Howell, a sophomore studying accounting from Chicago. “So this was nice.”

Feeling that such a function was long overdue, John Stampley, a member of Kappa Alpha Psi, said the tribute was a chance for the single mothers attending to relax and enjoy a nice meal and relaxing music.

“These women are so strong mentally and at heart, but they are often looked over when it comes to giving them their proper respects,” said Stampley, a senior studying electrical engineering from Chicago.

The national center also reported that nearly 1.5 million of the children born to single mothers last year, women in their twenties accounted for the largest increase in births, particularly among women age 25 to 29. Teenagers accounted for 24 percent of the unwed births, down 50 percent from 1970.

Muhammad, who was 30 when she had her daughter, said she has noticed that single motherhood is becoming an increasing statistic among women her age who maybe see it as more of a choice.

“It winds up being a huge demographic,” Muhammad said. “There are a whole lot of single mothers.”

Reporter Laura Teegarden can be reached at [email protected]