An astonishing 72% of Black children are raised by single mothers, but not all of those single parent households represent dismal circumstances. As society in general moves more toward single parenthood, we pay homage to the Black celebrity single mothers who are balancing their grueling work schedules with raising stellar children.
For more on single motherhood in the Black community, check out Moguldom Studios’ latest documentary “72%,” available on iTunes and Google Play.
We fell in love with Nia Long decades ago after she starred in“Boyz N The Hood” and “Love Jones.” More than 20 years later, the Brooklyn native hardly looks like she’s aged a bit. Her two sons, 13-year-old Massai and 2-year-old Kez, must keep her young because Long is proud to do it all. “I’m not a movie star mom who’s got a private chef, a nanny and a driver,” she said to “Essence” magazine. “My mantra is, ‘You created this, you can handle it.’”
Taraji P. Henson
Taraji P. Henson fell in love with her high school sweetheart. They remained together in their early 20’s and she was a junior in college when she found out she was pregnant. The “Hustle & Flow” star gave birth to her son, Marcel, in 1994 but her son’s father was killed in a car accident when their son was still young. With nothing but $700 to her name, Henson packed up her things and moved to Hollywood with Marcel to pursue her dream of becoming an actress. Her big break came when she landed a role in “Baby Boy” and the rest is history.
Regina King started her acting career early. Her first role as Brenda Jenkins on “227” turned her into a star while she was still a teenager. Since then, King has steadily padded her résumé with role after role, starring in both film and television. In 1997, King tied the knot to Ian Alexander and the couple had one son together. But ten years later, they split up and since then King has been raising her son as a single mother.
Vanessa L. Williams
Vanessa L. Williams made history by becoming the first Black Miss America back in 1983. Since then she’s gone on to have a stellar career as an actress and singer. Married twice, first to a public relations consultant and then to NBA player Rick Fox, Williams became a mother four times over. She had three children by her first husband and a daughter with Fox. Williams became a single woman again after her marriage to the former Los Angeles Lakers star ended in divorce in 2004.
Fantasia Barrino shot to stardom after being crowned the winner of the third cycle of “American Idol.” By that time she was already a single mother who had a baby while she was a teenager. A year after her relationship with a married, but separated, Antwuan Cook started to make headlines, Barrino found out she was pregnant once again. This time she gave birth to a son but she and Cook are no longer together. He has since reunited with his wife.
Her milkshake brings all the boys to the yard and one of the men that Kelis managed to catch was rapper Nas. They met back at a 2002 MTV VMA after-party and after a year of a whirlwind courtship, they became engaged. Nas made an honest woman out of Kelis at the top of 2005 but after four years of wedded bliss, the couple separated. Kelis was seven-months pregnant at the time. Their split was so contentious, Nas wasn’t present when she gave birth to their son Knight. However, they have since buried the hatchet and have come together to co-parent their son.
Jill Scott honed her signature sound working as a back up singer before stepping into the spotlight herself. In June 2008, concert-goers were shocked to see Scott share a long kiss onstage with her drummer and fans were even more surprised when, a year later, she and her drummer welcomed a baby boy. But in just a matter of months, Scott became a single mother. Undeterred, Scott has juggled the duties of a new mother with being a singer and a budding acting career.
Solange Knowles followed her very famous big sister’s footsteps into the world of singing but she did manage to beat Beyonce when it came to motherhood. The younger Knowles became pregnant at the age of 17 and she married her high school sweetheart before she gave birth to their son Daniel. Even though she relocated to Idaho to raise a family while her husband pursued a higher education, their marriage only lasted three years. A young, single mother, Solange has raised her son while carving a path of her own out as an eclectic songstress.
Christina Milian got caught up in a fairytale romance when she started dating superproducer The-Dream in early 2009. By the time the fall came around, a pregnant Milian and The-Dream had eloped in Las Vegas, but when she gave birth to her daughter Violet, the “Dip It Low” singer was already a single mother. Behind closed doors, the couple had split up three months after saying, “I do.” Juggling many hats, Milian makes sure her daughter is her first priority. “As a mom, that’s at the forefront of everything in my mind, so I’m always trying to balance,” she said to “Ebony” magazine. “Whether its bringing Violet to work or the second I am done working, getting home to her.”
After separating from her first husband in 2006, Sherri Shepherd was a single mother to her son Jeffrey. It was her good friend Niecy Nash who introduced her to Lamar Sally and she found love once again — or so she thought. The two got married in 2011 but earlier this year, the couple announced they were calling it quits. Then a few months later, it was revealed that after seven years co-hosting “The View,” she would no longer sit at the table. But don’t cry for Shepherd, who has become a single mother yet again. She will make her Broadway debut this fall in “Cinderella.”
Singer Erykah Badu has always danced to the beat of her own drum. A single mother, the “Call Tyrone” singer gave birth to her third child with her other two children in the room watching firsthand. A true believer of being centered and one with Mother Nature, Badu says love helps her be a better person and mother. “My medicine is being in love you know, I’m in love,” she said in “Mantra” magazine. “And when I’m in love I glow, and my face is happy, and my heart is light and happy. And my children are happy.”