When we think of Black history, certain names tend to spring to mind, and these figures’ words still hold much power decades after their deaths. But often, little is known about their early family lives and influences.
Anna Malaika Tubbs, Gates scholar and first lady of Stockton, seeks to amend that in “The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation” (Feb. 2). Alberta King, Louise Little and Berdis Baldwin all tirelessly encouraged their sons to pursue their educations, focusing on a belief in the worth of Black Americans and the desire to promote Black resistance and racial justice. These formidable women played an immense role in the shape of their sons’ lives, and Tubbs brings them rightfully out of the darkness of history into the light.
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is one of the most prominent scholars of Black history and the African American experience working today. His newest work, “The Black Church: This is Our Story, This is Our Song” (Feb. 16), centers the Black church in the history of resistance to injustice as well as a cultural and political force that encouraged activists, scholars, and other change-makers from within its congregations.
Starting from his personal experience growing up in the church of his segregated West Virginia town, Gates moves to the history of the Black church in America as first a sanctuary, then a powerful player in the fight for civil rights, while acknowledging that not all Black churches embraced the political role others did. This is an important addition to the canon of Black history.
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