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Motherwit through the Lives of Alberta King, Berdis Baldwin, and Louise Little



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Ntiriwah-Asare, Anna Malaika 


This project explores the lives of Alberta King, Louise Little, and Berdis Baldwin, the mothers of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin respectively. Through an in-depth exploration of their lives I seek to accomplish the following: 1) Provide a more accurate and holistic understanding of Black American revolutionary history. 2) Present and analyze the dehumanization of Black American women in its varying forms including erasure, misrecognition, and misrepresentation. 3) Analyze and contribute to Black American women’s resistance to such dehumanization. 4) Define the term “motherwit” as a way to honor both the challenges Black American women have faced in the United States, as well as the ways they have survived and the knowledge they have created as a result of this paradoxical experience. I argue that motherwit, when thoroughly understood, can be used as a tool of analysis in the field of sociology and beyond. Furthermore, it can contribute to current discussions of Black womanhood in and outside of academia by honoring Black women’s unique ways of giving life in their respective societies.





Moreno Figueroa, Monica


Motherhood, Black Feminism, Alberta King, Berdis Baldwin, Louise Little, Motherwit, Malcolm X, James Baldwin, Martin Luther King Jr.


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge
Gates Cambridge Scholarship