Black Mother Breastfeeding, 1937

This photograph is striking. It shows an African-American mother breastfeeding in 1937 in Greenville, MS. What once was normal in the black community has now shifted to abnormal. We all know breastfeeding rates among black women is the lowest in the country, but it wasn’t always this way. Something happened and I don’t think the shift to bottle-feeding can only be attributed to more mothers working outside of the home, although I’m sure working had a lot to do with it, just not everything. Attitudes changed and now breastfeeding isn’t the first form of infant-feeding with black mothers.

As a black mother I didn’t even consider bottle-feeding, but I’m rare given the numbers. I hope one day I can pinpoint what happened between the early 20th century and today that caused so many black mothers to balk at breastfeeding.

Location:Greenville, MS, US
Date taken:1937
Photographer:Alfred Eisenstaedt
Time Life Magazine