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The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation

The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation

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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.

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.

About the Author

Anna Malaika Tubbs is a Cambridge Ph.D. candidate in sociology and a Bill and Melinda Gates Cambridge Scholar. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University with a Bachelor’s degree in anthropology, Anna received a Master’s degree from the University of Cambridge in multidisciplinary gender studies. Outside of the academy she is an educator, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion consultant, and the First Partner of Stockton, California. She lives with her husband, Michael Tubbs, who is the mayor of Stockton, and their son, Michael Malakai.
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 288 pages
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 9 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.35 x 0.95 x 8.2 inches