Born on February 5, 1920, Georgia Gilmore worked as a midwife and cook in Montgomery, Alabama and was prominently involved in the citywide bus boycotts inspired by Rosa Parks. Known for her meals, Gilmore started her own home-based restaurant and established the Club From Nowhere, which raised money via pastry sales for boycott transportation costs. She died in early March 1990.
Born on February 5, 1920, Georgia Theresa Gilmore became one of the key players in the Civil Rights Movement during the 1950s Montgomery Bus Boycott in Alabama. Gilmore had worked as a nurse and midwife, also obtaining a position as a cook at National Lunch Company in Montgomery.
Montgomery Bus Boycott
The protest was started by the African-American community after Rosa Parks chose not to give up her seat to white passengers on a bus, for which she was arrested. After coordination with E.D. Nixon of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the boycott was initiated on the day of Parks's trial—December 5, 1955—and lasted until December 20 of the following year.
The boycott was led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a young pastor who worked in conjunction with fellow minister Ralph D. Abernathy to form the Montgomery Improvement Association. The citywide action involved a huge amount of volunteer coordination.
Opens Home Restaurant
Gilmore actively participated in the boycott, walking to her destinations and fending off taunts from local youth. As told by a colleague, she was fired from her post at National Lunch after she testified in court about a driver. At King's personal suggestion, Gilmore then started up a restaurant in her own home, with long lines formed in wait for her sumptuous meals. Her spot was a haven where civil rights strategists knew they could meet safely and secretly.
Starts Club From Nowhere
Gimore also started the Club From Nowhere, which consisted of African-American women cooking cakes and pies and selling said goods to both black and white customers. The money received from the sales went to funding boycott transportation costs. Gilmore was the sole officer of the club, responsible for turning in funds at the weekly mass meetings held at Holt Street Church. A rival group sprung up as well-helmed by Inez Ricks—the Friendly Club—and the two engaged in friendly competition to see who could raise the most on a weekly basis.
Life Lessons From King
A large woman nicknamed "Tiny" by King, Gilmore was known for her care, humor and a no-nonsense air who managed to pull off grand activism while raising a family. Describing herself in an Eye on the Prize interview as being "fiery" in temperament for much of her life, Gilmore found herself responding to the ideas on mindfulness offered by Dr. King.
"I didn't mind fighting you, I didn't care who you was, white or black, but listening at him I began to realize some of the things that my mother had taught me in the past," Gilmore said of King. "That you think twice before you do some things, because some things you do, you will regret it later. And so by me being able to control my temper, I made a lot of friends that I never thought that I would have, white and black."
Georgia Gilmore died in early March 1990, with her home being commemorated as a historical site. She had several children, with her son, Mark Gilmore Jr., becoming a city councilman.
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