Tribute to Mothers: Larcenia Sissy Floyd


“Mama!” His last intelligible words cried out in pain, crushing agony and haunting death. Just over a year ago, no one had ever heard of Larcenia “Sissy” Floyd; a gut-wrenching, nine-minute video put her 46-year-old son’s face on every major news network in the world. Mama, and his reference to her, was part of the devastating story.

Was his crying out for Mama to help him? Or was he acknowledging her spiritual presence as he neared the end of his life? Mama, you see, passed away in Houston two years before he died, pinned down on the streets of Minneapolis.

“Mama!” The name elicits a knee-jerk reaction in nearly half of the world’s population. Young mothers wait anxiously for the day when their little one will fuss their first words from the combination of uncooperative lips, tongue and vocal chords. The cry can mean delight, desire for attention, pain or fright. The name is often the first word from our lips, and in this case, it was also one of his last.

Larcenia Floyd was a mother of five, who raised her children in a poor neighborhood of Houston called the Bricks. They lived in public housing and she served on the resident council, advocating for her family, her community and her neighborhood. She was the descendant of sharecroppers from North Carolina, who were the descendants of slaves. She was named after her great-grandmother, Larcenia, who bore 22 children, all of whom called her “Mama.”

“Mama!” For those who still have an earthly Mama, the month of May is a reminder of her importance in our lives. For those whose Mamas have departed from their earthly bodies, the cry is a reminder of her lingering spiritual presence in our lives.