Toya Graham is a mother of six children, raising them on her own in inner city Baltimore. She calls herself a “no-tolerant mother” and her children can back that up, but this week she has been called “Mother of the Year,” for

Brown spotted her 16-year-old son, Michael, in the midst of the crowd that was morphing into a riot in west Baltimore on Monday afternoon. He was wearing a mask over his face and holding a brick.

“I was shocked. I was angry, because you never want to see your child out there doing that,” she later told one television reporter.

Like most parents, Graham reacted instinctively, pulling her son out of danger without giving any thought to her actions. She said her son made eye contact with her and, “he knew. He knew he was in trouble.”

She charged into the crowd, grabbed her son and physically pushed and dragged him away from the scene while berating and slapping the much-taller teenager. Graham later apologized in a televised interview for her use of expletives, but the mother’s message was not lost on the boy as he tried to get away from her. Graham chased him down across a street and continued yelling, “You come back here!” and in words every parent could recall saying, “Did you hear what I said?”

“He knew he was in trouble. He told me, ‘I seen you, Ma, and my instinct was to run.’”

Video shot by television cameras covering the scene went viral and the mother won instant praise from anchors, reporters and guests on news programs, then from the nation.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said he wished more parents would take charge of their kids. Even Oprah Winfrey chimed in.

The single mother said Michael is her only son and, “at the end of the day I don’t want him to be a Freddie Gray,” referring to the 25-year-old whose death in police custody had given rise to the unrest and riots. “But to stand up there and vandalize police officers, that’s not justice.”

Not surprisingly, the political left wasted no time in citing the mother’s actions as a “public beating” of her son, and indicative of the cycle of violence perpetuated on the black community by white oppression.


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