A protest sign spotted at a Washington, D.C. rally is now a battle cry for mothers everywhere. A 26-year-old Black mom named Thema shared a photo of herself carrying her homemade sign on Instagram, where it's wracked up thousands of likes.

With her pregnant belly proudly on display, her powerful message becomes even more inspiring. "We are not carrying for 9 months / Then struggling for 9 hours during labor / Just for you to kneel on their neck for 9 minutes," the sign proclaims. "Black Lives Matter."

That nine minutes is a devastating reference to length of time a Minneapolis offer had his knee on the neck of George Floyd—an unarmed Black man who died during that encounter.


"I SAID WHAT I SAID!!" Thema captioned the photo, shouting out hashtags including #BLACKLIVESMATTER #BLACKOUTEVERYDAY, #STOPKILLINGOURKIDS, #FREEDOMFIGHTERS, #justiceforgeorgefloyd, #justiceforbreonnataylor, and #nojusticenopeace.

Thema told TODAY that Floyd's death has weighed heavily on her. "The video of his death and hearing him cry out for his mother will forever be embedded in my head. I truly believe that when Mr. Floyd called out for his mother, all mothers were summoned, of all ages," she said.

As a Black mom in America, she said getting a phone call that her own child has died at the hands of a cop is one of her biggest fears. "Then for someone who vowed to protect and serve the people of all colors, just easily take our baby's lives in nine minutes! Eight minutes and 46 seconds to be exact with no remorse or hesitation! That alone called me to the front line to stand up for our children, " she said. "Enough is enough, new laws need to be in place and true justice needs to be served!"

Black mothers have to fight against racial disparities even before their babies are born. They are at a higher risk for complications like preeclampsia and eclampsia, are more likely to struggle to get doctors to take their concerns seriously, and are more likely to die in childbirth. Making the U.S. a safer place to raise a Black child will taking addressing racism in all areas of society, from the medical profession to the education system to policing. There's a saying that goes, "There's no such thing as other people's children,"—which means that moms of all races are needed in the fight for equality. Thema's sign just may inspire more of them to join the movement.