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Home » How Moms Shape The World: Anna Malaika Tubbs (Transcript)

How Moms Shape The World: Anna Malaika Tubbs (Transcript)

Here is the full transcript of sociologist and author Anna Malaika Tubbs’ talk titled “How Moms Shape The World” at TED 2021 conference.

Listen to the audio version here:


Every year, around January 15th, the world rightfully celebrates the birth of the great Martin Luther King Jr. Yet, virtually no one has stopped to consider who else was in that room that day in 1929. As if somehow MLK Jr. birthed himself. I toured the location where he was born.

A charming, quaint two-story home in Atlanta. And while it was an honor to even be there, I left feeling frustrated by the tour guide’s script. Of course, MLK Jr. was the center of most of the tales, and then came stories about his father, the inspiring Reverend Martin Luther King Sr.

The Erasure of Alberta Christine Williams King

But what frustrated me was the lack of attention being paid to his mother, Alberta Christine Williams King. Even though this was actually her childhood home first and the home where she’d later birth her children, in a room on the second floor. This erasure doesn’t only concern Alberta.

Mothers in the US are often misrepresented or completely left out in the stories we tell. Mothers are used to being seen as selfless beings without needs for others to consider. They’re used to feeling belittled if they stay at home with their children because the narrative says it’s “unproductive.”

Or they might even hide the fact that they have children at work so that they’re still taken seriously rather than seen as distracted. And they will not receive credit for the accomplishments of the loved ones they have supported day in and day out because our retelling of events doesn’t feature the many acts of mothering.

The Impact of Misrepresentation

Beyond such instances being frustrating, I believe they lead to a lack of understanding surrounding the critical roles mothers play in our society, and they contribute to a lack of support for mothers. If the stories we tell, both on an interpersonal level as well as in literature and in media, deem mothers as unimportant, as unworthy of being seen and considered, then these opinions will be reflected in the way that mothers are treated in our country.

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