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'The Three Mothers' Honors Grace, Sacrifices of Emma Berdis Baldwin, Louise Little, and Alberta King

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James Baldwin is called "the most forceful literary voice for black civil rights."

Minister and civil rights leader Malcolm X backed Black nationalism. He said that black people should stand up to white violence "by any means necessary."

Martin Luther King Jr., a Baptist minister and activist, was one of the most important people in the civil rights movement. He utilized peaceful protests to fight for equality and human rights for all people of color.

The thing that tied these men together was that they all wanted to change the direction of the country and that they were all raised by strong Black mothers.

Anna Malaika Tubbs writes in her book The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation that Emma Berdis Baldwin, Louise Little, and Alberta King are "women who have been almost entirely ignored throughout history."

Tubbs says that the women were "ignored even though it should have been easy to see them throughout history...in ways that are obvious when the fame of their sons is taken into account." These three moms "have been wiped out."

The book's research on how Black women have been dehumanized "fights that erasure," but the moms "empowered their children to thrive despite the obstacles." The story of their lives starts on the island of Grenada, many generations before Louise (Norton) Little was born.

Tubbs thinks investigating the family back to the 19th century is vital to understand Little, "“to know how the color of her skin influenced her thinking, in order to comprehend why her grandparents were so important in her life and, as a result, in Malcolm X’s life, we cannot begin with her birth.”

Little didn't want her kids to have a mindset that told them they were less important than other people. She told them how Black people in the U.S. and abroad fought for their rights.

She worked for the newspaper Negro World and could speak at least three languages.

Like other Black houses, the King's kitchen was where everyone gathered. There, both parents "taught their children about how unfair segregation was and reminded them of how important it was to do what they could to change it."

Alberta King went to Spelman Seminary, the Hampton Normal and Industrial Institute, and Morris Brown College. She had the most education of the three mothers.

Berdis made sure James Baldwin had a good education despite society's censure. She felt James, although being young, could make a difference and would do anything to aid him. When Baldwin won one of his first awards for writing, Berdis took it for him.

The Three Mothers is a celebration of Black motherhood in the past and present. It shows how powerful Black women have been throughout history.