by Anna Malaika Tubbs
Much has been written about Berdis Baldwin's son James, about Alberta King's son Martin Luther, and Louise Little's son Malcolm. But virtually nothing has been said about the extraordinary women who raised them.
In her groundbreaking and essential debut The Three Mothers, scholar Anna Malaika Tubbs celebrates Black motherhood by telling the story of the three women who raised and shaped some of America's most pivotal heroes.
Berdis Baldwin, Alberta King, and Louise Little were all born at the beginning of the 20th century and forced to contend with the prejudices of Jim Crow as Black women. These three extraordinary women passed their knowledge to their children with the hope of helping them to survive in a society that would deny their humanity from the very beginning--from Louise teaching her children about their activist roots, to Berdis encouraging James to express himself through writing, to Alberta basing all of her lessons in faith and social justice. These women used their strength and motherhood to push their children toward greatness, all with a conviction that every human being deserves dignity and respect despite the rampant discrimination they faced.
These three mothers taught resistance and a fundamental belief in the worth of Black people to their sons, even when these beliefs flew in the face of America's racist practices and led to ramifications for all three families' safety. The fight for equal justice and dignity came above all else for the three mothers.
These women, their similarities and differences, as individuals and as mothers, represent a piece of history left untold and a celebration of Black motherhood long overdue.
"In excavating the life stories of the mothers who reared three of the most central figures in the struggle for civil rights, Anna Malaika Tubbs provides a profound reflection on the contours of Black freedom in the twentieth century and beyond. The Three Mothers is an essential celebration of Black women, one that illuminates the history of racism and resistance in critical new ways. A timely and important book." -- Elizabeth Hinton, author of From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime
"The Three Mothers is a fascinating exploration into the lives of three women ignored by history after raising sons who helped shape a movement. By tracing the intellectual, political, and emotional strands of each woman's life, Anna Malaika Tubbs uncovers hidden complexities within black motherhood that illuminate our understanding of the past while also shedding light on the overlooked contributions of black women today. An eye-opening, engrossing read!" --Brit Bennett, New York Times bestselling author of The Vanishing Half and The Mothers
"This dynamic blend of biography and manifesto centers on Louise Little, Alberta King, and Berdis Baldwin--the mothers of, respectively, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., and James Baldwin--women whose legacies, as Tubbs notes, have been overlooked. Using them as a window into the varieties of Black American experience.... Tubbs's book stands against the women's erasure, a monument to their historical importance. As Malcolm X put it, 'All our achievements are mom's.'" --The New Yorker's Briefly Noted column
About the Author:
Anna Malaika Tubbs is a multidisciplinary expert on current and historical understandings of race, gender, and equity. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University with a BA in anthropology, Anna earned her MA in gender studies and her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Cambridge as a Bill and Melinda Gates Cambridge Scholar. She lives with her husband, Michael Tubbs, and their children Michael Malakai and Nehemiah Neven.