Those characteristics and the stories that tell readers how they were formed are available in the new history and biography books listed below.
Let us celebrate 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: Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin. 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, who were all born at the beginning of the 20th century and forced to contend with the prejudices of Jim Crow as Black women. Berdis, Alberta, and Louise 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.
Dorothy Pitman Hughes was a transformative community organizer in New York City in the 1970s, who shared the stage with Gloria Steinem for five years, captivating audiences around the country. After leaving rural Georgia in the 1950s, she moved to New York, determined to fight for civil rights and equality. Lovett traces Pitman Hughes' transformation into a powerhouse activist determined to take on the needs of her community and build a platform for empowerment. She created lasting change by revitalizing her West Side neighborhood, a community subjected to racial discrimination, with nonexistent childcare and sub-standard housing, in which poverty, drug use, lack of job training, and the effects of the Vietnam War were evident She imagined and then created a high quality child care center which also offered job training, adult education classes, a Youth Action corps, housing assistance and food resources. Pitman Hughes' realization that the area could be revitalized by actively engaging and including the community was prescient and is startlingly relevant. As her stature and influence grew to a national level, Pitman Hughes went from the West Side to spending several years traversing the country with Steinem and educating people about feminism, childcare, and race. Pitman Hughes's community activism was transformed when she moved to Harlem in the 1970s to counter gentrification. She bought the franchise to the Miss Greater New York City pageant in order to demonstrate that black was beautiful. She also opened an office supply store and became a powerful voice for Black women entrepreneurs and Black-owned business only to be thwarted by plans for economic development that favored national chains over local businesses. Throughout every phase of her life, Pitman Hughes' understood the transformative power of activism with the Black community.