The mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin are finally getting their due

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Jessica DuLong

Published May 9, 2021

Anna Malaika Tubbs learned she was pregnant with her first child in November 2019 while researching her first book.

Already, her relationship with the stories she was uncovering about Alberta King, Louise Little and Emma Berdis Baldwin had been intensifying, the more she learned about their revolutionary role in the fight for Black equality, respect and liberation.

The deep, emotional pull of new motherhood further amplified her connections to the women highlighted in “The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation.” Released in February, the book reveals the forgotten history of how these women withstood the dehumanization and death of Black children during a pivotal moment in the Civil Rights Movement.

Tubbs, well aware of the Black maternal health crisis, felt almost immediately that she was “in a survival fight for us to make it through my pregnancy.” Given that Black women are at least three times more likely than white women to die as a result of pregnancy, she worried that biases about Black women could put her life in danger.