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Crime & Justice

2 moms on raising black sons in Baltimore




Toya Graham, a mother of six, stops her son from throwing rocks at the police in Baltimore during the riot
Toya Graham, a mother of six, stops her son from throwing rocks at the police in Baltimore during the riot

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One of the most stirring images from the Baltimore riots was the viral video of mother Toya Graham giving her son a smack down after seeing him throw objects at police officers. 

Earlier this week, she appeared on CBS and explained her actions. "That's my only son. And at the end of the day, I don't want him to be a Freddie Gray," she said.

Many hailed Graham as "Mom of the Year," and many have also been critical of her actions. 

Tenille Patterson is the Chief Operating Officer of the Center for Urban Families in Baltimore and is the mother of three sons, ages 12, 10 and 5. She told Take Two that when she saw the video of Graham reprimanding her son, she understood where she was coming from.

"I understood her fear. I understood her pain and her reaction," Patterson said. "My husband and I parent three boys and it takes a village."

Fatima Wilkerson is a single mom raising two sons, ages 12 and 15, in the Patterson Park neighborhood of Baltimore. She told Take Two that she would have reacted as Graham did.

"There's this fear that overwhelms you and that mamma bear instinct kicks in," Wilkerson said. 

"You really have to try to maintain a balance between giving [your sons] the freedom to grow up and become men and make their own decisions, and making sure that that one decision that they make won't cost them their life," she said.  

Click on the player above to listen to the entire interview.