Feeding the Civil Rights Movement

Georgia Gilmore was born in Montgomery Alabama, the hotbed of much of the struggle for civil rights. She became the lead cook in a cafeteria serving only white people. She was also a midwife and mother of six children.

When Georgia became active with the NAACP she was fired and subsequently getting another job. She turned her kitchen in her home into a kitchen where civil rights leaders met. She also cooked for Presidents Kennedy and Johnson.

Gilmore inspired other African American women to sell food as a way of raising funds for the civil rights movement. They were called The Club from Nowhere.

When Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus, the African American community staged a boycott of the bus system. Georgia and The Club from Nowhere cooked meals to be sold to support private transportation for the boycotters to get to work.

The support that Georgia and The Club from Nowhere provided helped sustain the boycott. The boycott lasted over a year and only ended when the Supreme Court declared that segregation violated the 14th amendment.

Georgia continued her fight for civil rights after the boycott. On the 25th anniversary of the march from Salem to Montgomery, she was in her kitchen preparing macaroni and cheese and fried chicken for the marchers. Unfortunately she died while cooking. But her final act of kindness didn’t go to waste.  The food she was preparing was served to mourners at her visitation.

We often forget the hidden heroes who play a vital but behind-the-scenes role in their lives. This is especially true for the women who played an important role in the civil rights movement. Their contributions are largely forgotten. We often forget that those who are out in front couldn’t have the success they strived for without the hidden heroes who provide grass roots support.                                                                                    * * *

“She literally fed the movement. She sustained it.” – Julia Turshen (Historian – speaking about the role of Georgia Gilmore)

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