The best books on Black motherhood

Anna Malaika Tubbs Author Of The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation
By Anna Malaika Tubbs

Who am I?

Anna Malaika Tubbs is the author of the critically acclaimed book The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of MLK Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation. She is also 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 BA in Anthropology, Anna received a Master’s from the University of Cambridge in Multidisciplinary Gender Studies. Outside of the academy, she is an educator and DEI consultant. She lives with her husband, Michael Tubbs, and their son Michael Malakai.


I wrote...

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

By Anna Malaika Tubbs,

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

What is my book about?

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.

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.

The books I picked & why

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We Live for the We: The Political Power of Black Motherhood

By Dani McClain,

Book cover of We Live for the We: The Political Power of Black Motherhood

Why this book?

This book is a beautiful combination of personal narrative and social commentary. McClain takes you through many of the complicated emotions of raising Black children in the United States while also leaving her reader with a sense of sisterhood and support. It’s a must when it comes to understanding the current landscape Black mothers are facing.


Birthing Justice: Black Women, Pregnancy, and Childbirth

By Julia Oparah (editor), Alicia Bonaparte (editor),

Book cover of Birthing Justice: Black Women, Pregnancy, and Childbirth

Why this book?

A crucial read not only for understanding the unique obstacles facing Black birthing parents but also for celebrating the work of organizers who have fought for our reproductive justice. This book explains how key moments in history have led to where we are today and fills gaps of understanding that many have when it comes to Black maternal health.


Rise Up Singing: Black Women Writers on Motherhood

By Cecelie Berry,

Book cover of Rise Up Singing: Black Women Writers on Motherhood

Why this book?

This anthology brings together diverse Black women’s voices to discuss motherhood, they range from mothers who celebrate their role to women who ask why motherhood is cast upon all of us as a necessary step, they explore the joys as well as some of the painful realities of loss and postpartum depression. Reading these stories from varied perspectives in short essay formats makes it approachable and allows you to move through it at a pace that is comfortable for any reader.


Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines

By Alexis Pauline Gumbs (editor), China Martens (editor), Mai'a Williams (editor)

Book cover of Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines

Why this book?

This book powerfully expands our definition of mothers and the role of mothering and presents it as a path to transformation. You will leave this book with a radical new perspective of what mothering does for everyone in our society. It is anti-imperialist, inclusive, and as the title suggests - revolutionary. If everyone read this, we would all live in a better world!


In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Womanist Prose

By Alice Walker,

Book cover of In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Womanist Prose

Why this book?

This anthology of some of Walker’s most powerful works with a focus on discovering ourselves through studying those who came before us is both incredibly informative and emotional. It explores motherhood not only through the biological role but also in a sense of community mothering and foremothers. There is much to learn about our present by examining lessons laid out for us by generations past.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in motherhood, African Americans, and parenting?

5,215 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about motherhood, African Americans, and parenting.

Motherhood Explore 15 books about motherhood
African Americans Explore 397 books about African Americans
Parenting Explore 109 books about parenting

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Like a Mother: A Feminist Journey Through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy, The Unmumsy Mum: The Hilarious Highs and Emotional Lows of Motherhood, and Buddhism for Mothers: A Calm Approach to Caring for Yourself and Your Children if you like this list.