Georgia Gilmore, the Montgomery cook, midwife and activist whose secret kitchen fed the civil rights movement
When King and others held meetings of the Montgomery Improvement Association at the Holt Street Baptist Church, Gilmore was there, selling fried chicken sandwiches and other foods to the African-American men and women gathered there who’d pledged not to use the city’s buses until they were desegregated. Gilmore poured those profits back into the movement.
…Gilmore organized black women to sell pound cakes and sweet potato pies, fried fish and stewed greens, pork chops and rice at beauty salons, cab stands and churches. “She offered these women, many of whose grandmothers were born into slavery, a way to contribute to the cause that would not raise suspicions of white employers who might fire them from their jobs, or white landowners who might evict them from the houses they rented,” Edge says.
The money they raised helped pay for the alternative transportation system that arose in Montgomery during the 381-day bus boycott: hundreds of cars, trucks and wagons that ferried black workers to and from their jobs across town each day. Gilmore’s cooking helped pay for the insurance, gas, wagons and vehicle repairs that kept that system going.
She called the group of women who worked with her in this project “The Club from Nowhere” because, as Betty Gilmore, Georgia’s sister, told Edge years later, “It was like, ‘Where did this money come from? It came from nowhere.”