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The Riverside Book Club will review The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation by Anna Malaika Tubbs. Quotes from the book:
“We must highlight the experiences of Black mothers and appreciate their ability to bring life no matter how often it is denied them. Their humanity is removed when they are forgotten, when they are not given the credit they earned, and when their names fade from history.”
“What is most revelatory in the lives of these three women was their ability to push against, break down, and step over each and every challenge that came their way. They saw themselves and their children as being worthy of life, worthy of rights, and worthy of grace.”
“In all three cases, the mothers’ worst fears became reality: each woman was alive to bury her son. It is an absolute injustice that far too many Black mothers today can say the same thing”.
Tubbs presents the stories of Berdis Baldwin (1901-99), Alberta King (1904-74), and Louise Little (1897-1991), mothers of James Baldwin, Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, respectively. She points out that, while so much has been written about Baldwin, King and Malcolm X, very little is known about the mothers who raised them. However, through their roles as mothers, taken together, they indeed shaped the history of the 20th century.
In her storytelling, Tubbs interweaves the events of their family histories, childhoods, marriages, and motherhoods in ways that cause readers to come away with a greatly enhanced understanding of the important roles of these women whose contributions have remained invisible.
The Riverside Book Club has invited the panel of Luvon Roberson, Laura Evans-Frantz, and Zenobia Gray, to review her book via the lenses as mothers of adult sons:
Zenobia Gray has been an active member of the Riverside Church since November, 1983. She was active in the Youth Department for 20 years. During that time she was a Rites of Passage mentor for 20 years and Sunday School Teacher about 20 years. She retired as an Assistant Deputy Warden from the NYC Department of Correction in 1987 after 20 years of service on Rikers Island. Zenobia loves walking and walks four miles six mornings a week. She lives in New Jersey with her Civil Union partner Ruth Joseph. They celebrated their 40th anniversary on February 6th.They enjoyed plays, musicals and travel together before covid. They are living their best life. Zenobia is a proud single mother of two college educated, married adults . Colette (Herbert) gave her her first and only granddaughter who is in her second year of Medical School and a grandson who earned a degree in Computer Engineering now working and living in Virginia. Her son Raymond (Toyya) has three sons. The oldest is a Harvard graduate with a degree in Business, working and living in NJ. The second is in his second year of College and the youngest is a sophomore in High School.
Laura Evans is a retired early childhood educator and the mother of Isaac Evans-Frantz, age 39, a member of The Riverside Church. Laura was born In New York City and attended Riverside as a girl. The summer after her freshman year of college, she worked as a camp counselor at a church in East Harlem, where she met her first husband. A year later they married and went to India to live for 2 years. She graduated from a university near Calcutta. Back in the US, they lived for a year in NYC before moving to Vermont in 1968, where she got an MA in Teaching, divorced, lived in a collective household, and met her current husband, the father of her son. A much-loved part of Laura’s current life is Riverside’s Morning Prayer Group, which she joins week days on Zoom. Singing, peer counseling, and sharing information and ideas are important parts of her days.
Luvon Roberson, following nearly 30 years as a PR/ Communications executive, now defines herself in terms of her life as a writer of poetry, memoirs, ethnographic fiction, and narrative performance – fueled by social justice. Through it all, she is the mother of a 34-year-old son and she is the daughter of a single mom who worked the night shift. Luvon spent solitary hours reading and writing stories and poems while growing up in New York City, after her family migrated from Mississippi in the 1950s. Her current work-in-progress: “Mississippi Sanctifyin,”is a memoir-collection of multi-genre writings about her family’s sharecropping experience and their legacy to her. A longtime member of The Riverside Church, she is founder of the Riverside Writing Group.