Of the many women who were instrumental in aiding the civil rights movement, Georgia Gilmore’s name deserves more mention. During the height of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Gilmore created a secret club and restaurant that supplied food and a meeting place for Black and white organizers.
Gilmore was born February 5, 1920 in Montgomery, Alabama. A midwife and mother of six, she worked as a cook at a local eatery. In December 1955, Rosa Parks effectively kicked off the bus boycotts by refusing to move from her bus seat, which in turn inspired Gilmore, who was noted for shouting down bigots.
After getting fired from her job for participating in the boycott and testifying against a driver, Gilmore and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who nicknamed her “Tiny,” crossed paths. The famed leader suggested that Gilmore convert her kitchen into a restaurant to make ends meet, and she did so while supplying meals to the Memphis Improvement Association and boycott organizers.
This became the inspiration behind the “Club From Nowhere,” serving full meals to MIA members and boycott participants, while also serving as a de facto meeting hub that both white and Black members could safely discuss their plans. The success of the club was so great that a rival group started by Inez Ricks called “The Friendly Club” began their own meal service and the groups had well-meaning competitions to see who could raise more funds.
The monies made at the Club From Nowhere helped fund MIA and boycott efforts while also helping Gilmore keep afloat financially. Not much is written about her life after the boycotts ended but she was featured in the PBS documentary Eyes On The Prize.
Gilmore passed in 1990 on March 3, near the 25th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday event.
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