Mississippi Strong: Midwives - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Mississippi Strong: Midwives

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Back in the day when babies were born at home, the midwife was essential.

"They were looked up to as if they were like ministers or teachers in the community. They were on that level," said Mattie Stevens.

Mattie Stevens is one of the presidents of the National Council of Negro Women and she is one of a bunch of people involved trying to preserve a couple of houses on Cohea street in Jackson associated with Virginia Scott-Ford, who was a midwife in the black community in Jackson.

"The African American community was totally dependent on the midwifes for a period of time up until about the 60s," said Alferdteen Harrison.

What was a midwife? Well, she was the stork’s best friend. When it was time for the baby to come the midwife was summoned to perform the delivery. Not at a hospital. At home!

"And we’d all be peeping through the cracks, those of us who were up, the age where we could be nosy and interested to know what was going on, we’d be watching. ‘Cause I remember watching when my little nephew was born," said Mattie.

The midwife was sometimes paid in chickens and eggs. But often enough, in cash. Usually, they had a steady business on the side, too. The Scotts and Fords also ran a laundry. The legislators were their customers. And that made them pioneer women entrepreneurs.

And THAT is a part of the reason why there is a Women’s History Month forum this Saturday the 18th at Smith Robertson Museum from 9 till noon where people can tell their stories of being delivered by a midwife or being a midwife.

The oral histories will be recorded and become a part of the Scott Ford House Museum when it is completed. And Young people are especially urged to attend and learn about the past and about self-determination.

"We want to teach the girls that whole process; how you began to become an entrepreneur at what you already know," said Ada Miller Robinson.

The midwife: Strong women who were a part of the backbone of the social and economic communities they lived in and showed the way to become a part of a thriving middle class in a culture just emerging from slavery. Determined to be strong. I’m proud to say they were Mississippi strong.

For more information about this fascinating forum this Saturday morning at Smith Robertson Museum call 601-953-4060.

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