Oakland nonprofit holds Mother's Day brunch to celebrate formerly incarcerated parents

ByCornell Barnard KGO logo
Monday, May 15, 2023
East Bay Mother's Day brunch celebrates formerly incarcerated parents
Oakland nonprofit Araminta Ross Foundation is raising funds to provide bail support and legal assistance to mothers.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- In the East Bay, a special Mother's Day celebration honored moms who are formerly incarcerated. An Oakland non-profit organization is raising funds to provide bail support and legal assistance to mothers, allowing them to be reunited with their families while awaiting trial.

"I just want to give all the mothers their flowers while you're here," said Fiani Johnson.

It was a special celebration in downtown Oakland honoring moms with brunch and a taste of freedom from incarceration.

"What we do is bail people out, then we host an event to uplift them and connect them with community services," Johnson said.

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Johnson is the founder of the Araminta Ross Foundation, which works to identify moms who are low-level offenders in need of bail support at Santa Rita Jail.

"I'm grateful for the new start, such a blessing," said Kolina Williams.

Williams was reunited with her two small kids thanks to the program, which relies on donations.

"They helped me by bailing me out, I wouldn't be here on Mother's Day if they didn't help me, I'd still be behind bars if they didn't help me," Johnson said.

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The foundation says nearly two-thirds of women in jail are women of color. Some can't afford bail, facing charges for low-level crimes.

This week, a rally was held outside the Alameda County Courthouse, calling to free Black mothers from prison.

Fiani Johnson says she started her foundation, after finding little support after her prison release.

"It was hard to find work. (I would) get a job, once my record came back, I'd be terminated. So that encouraged me to go to school and put some distance between me and my record," Johnson said.

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Not only is the foundation raising bail for moms, it's preparing others to re-enter society, by providing job assistance and self-care.

Nanette Francois, director of Trauma Recovery at BOSS Bay Area shared her Mother's Day journey with those just beginning theirs.

"Stay focused. It's not an easy journey. It's not an easy journey trying to collect your life or apologize to your children. It's not an easy journey, but you can do it," Francois said.

Find more information on the Araminta Ross Foundation here.

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