Sankofa Studies

Georgia Gilmore & The Club From Nowhere

February 3, 2020

The Civil Rights Movement has so many unsung heroes. One of the people whose name should be just as recognizable as Rosa Parks is Georgia Gilmore.

Prior to Rosa Parks taking her defiant stand, Georgia Gilmore had an experience on the bus that made her vow to never ride it again. After the movement began, Gilmore, who worked as a cook, decided she would use her culinary talents to feed and fund the resistance, which came to be known as the Montgomery bus boycott. She organized women to form the Club From Nowhere, a clandestine group that prepared savory meals (fried chicken sandwiches, fried fish, pork chops, greens, lima beans) and baked goods (peach pie, poundcakes) and sold them out of their homes, in local establishments and at protest meetings.

The resistance lasted 381 days and involved weekly strategy sessions, protests and an improvised car pool system with 300 cars and dozens of pickup and drop-off locations — all of which utilized the hundreds of dollars that the club raised.

Gilmore’s activism did not stop with the Montgomery Bus Boycott. In December 1958, she was part of a class-action lawsuit to desegregate Montgomery’s public parks. Though segregation in the parks had been deemed unconstitutional by the district court, the practice had continued. Private segregated white schools, for instance, had been allowed to use public recreational facilities for football and baseball games, meaning that taxpayers were subsidizing segregated schools.

She made that argument in Georgia Theresa Gilmore v. City of Montgomery, in which the United States Supreme Court, in 1974, ruled the practice unconstitutional.

Gilmore died on March 9, 1990, at 70. The cause was peritonitis, an inflammation of tissue in the abdomen. At her death she had been cooking food in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the march from Selma to Montgomery; the food was served to her mourners.

She and the countless other women of the Montgomery community are heroes.

Learn more about Georgia Gilmore here:

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