Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X and James Baldwin, three men of one generation who changed history, each of whom acknowledged their debts to their mothers as influences crucial to their paths. And yet, these mothers — Louise, Alberta and Berdis — like so many Black women throughout history, have until now remained largely unknown and unacknowledged. Who were these unsung Black mothers? What were their own journeys and what were the lessons they taught? Intimate and arching in scope, The Three Mothers is celebratory, revelatory and surprising. A remarkable book.
“This dynamic blend of biography and manifesto centers on Louise Little, Alberta King, and Berdis Baldwin . . . Tubbs’s book stands against the women’s erasure, a monument to their historical importance.”
—The New Yorker
"Tubbs' connection to these women is palpable on the page — as both a mother and a scholar of the impact Black motherhood has had on America. Through Tubbs' writing, Berdis, Alberta, and Louise's stories sing. Theirs is a history forgotten that begs to be told, and Tubbs tells it brilliantly."
— Ibram X. Kendi, #1 New York Times bestselling author of How to Be an Antiracist and National Book Award winner Stamped from the Beginning
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.
A New York Times Bestsellers Editors' Choice
An Amazon Editor's Pick for February
Amazon's Best Biographies and Memoirs of 2021
One of theSkimm's "16 Essential Books to Read This Black History Month"
One of Fortune Magazine's "21 Books to Look Forward to in 2021!"
One of Badass Women's Bookclub picks for "Badass Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2021!"
One of Working Mother Magazine's "21 Best Books of 2021 for Working Moms"
One of Ms. Magazine's "Most Anticipated Reads for the Rest of Us 2021"
One of Bustle's "11 Nonfiction Books To Read For Black History Month — All Written By Women"
One of SheReads.com's "Most anticipated nonfiction books of 2021"
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.
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|Product dimensions:||5.45(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.75(d)|
About the Author
Table of Contents
Part I The Circumstances of Our Birth 17
Part II The Denial of Our Existence 39
Part III Our Men and Marriages 59
Part IV The Birth of Our Children 81
Part V Our Trials, Tribulations, and Tragedies 105
Part VI Loving Our Sons 127
Part VII Losing Our Sons 149
Part VIII The Circumstances of Our Death 179
Conclusion: Our Lives Will Not Be Erased 201
Author's Note 223
Reading Group Guide 229