Georgia Gilmore (1920-1990)
“Georgia Gilmore, a single mother of six children with no formal education, worked for white families as a cleaner, a cook, and a nurse. When the [Montgomery Bus] boycott started, she founded the Club From Nowhere, an underground organization of maids, service workers, and cooks who prepared and sold sandwiches pies and cakes, and who collected donations in the service of black freedom. Gilmore’s visionary activism became an example for other neighborhoods, other communities.
When Gilmore’s employer found out about her political activities, he fired and blacklisted her. Martin Luther King, Jr. helped her turn her kitchen into a “restaurant” and it became a hub for people involved in the boycott. Her [food] became a conduit for political connection and for political action.
Her kitchen connected all kinds of people in the civil rights movement… King himself often held secret meetings at her home since he could trust her and her food. Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and John F. Kennedy ate in her kitchen… Georgia Gilmore was a leader and a visionary.”
“You cannot be afraid if you want to accomplish anything. You got to have the willing, the spirit and above all, you got to have the get-up.”
Georgia Gilmore was able to use what she had (a passion and talent for the culinary arts and an ability to organize) and was able to make a huge impact in the civil rights movement. How might we use what we have to further justice and peace in our community? How might we cultivate “the willing, the spirit and… the get-up” in ourselves and in one another?
[excerpt from Equality Archive]