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Posts Tagged ‘Montgomery bus boycott

“True heroism is… not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost”*…

 

georgia gilmore

Georgia Gilmore poses for photographers after testifying as a defense witness in the bus boycott trial of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., March 21, 1956, in Montgomery

 

… Gilmore played a pivotal role in the Montgomery bus boycott. In between parenting her six children and juggling two jobs, she single-handedly operated a grassroots fundraising campaign to support the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA), the organization coordinating the protest. “Georgia is an unsung heroine of the Civil Rights Movement,” says Thomas E. Jordan, pastor of the Lilly Baptist Church in Montgomery. “She worked behind the scenes to support, and see the reality of, desegregation in Montgomery.”

In order to raise money for the MIA, Gilmore organized an underground network of black women who sold pound cakes, sweet potato pies, and plates of fried fish and stewed greens door-to-door. More than half of the city’s black female workers were employed by white families, so Gilmore’s group provided an opportunity for them to contribute without jeopardizing their jobs. “Some colored folks or Negroes could afford to stick out their necks more than others because they had independent incomes,” Gilmore told the Chicago Tribune in 1975, “but some just couldn’t afford to be called ‘ring leaders’ and have the white folks fire them.”

To protect the participants from any backlash, Gilmore named the group the Club from Nowhere. That way, if the MIA was ever asked where their money came from, they could honestly say “nowhere.” Only Gilmore knew who cooked and purchased the food…

Read the inspiring story in full at “The Underground Kitchen That Funded the Civil Rights Movement.

* Arthur Ashe

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As we pay respect where it’s due, we might recall that it was on this date in 1948 that the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Sipuel v. Board of Regents of Univ. of Okla., 332 U.S. 631.  Ada Sipuel’s brother had planned to challenge segregationist policies of the University of Oklahoma, but had opted to attend Howard University Law School to avoid delaying his career with protracted litigation. Ada chose to fight.  On January 14, 1946, she applied to the all-white University of Oklahoma, then the only taxpayer-funded law school in Oklahoma; she was denied because of her race.  She sued, and two years later her case reached the highest court, which ruled that the “petitioner is entitled to secure legal education afforded by a state institution.” The justices continued, “The State must provide it for her in conformity with the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and provide it as soon as it does for applicants of any other group.”  It was one of thhe handful of decisions that laid the legal groundwork for the landmark 1954 decision, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483, that ordered the desegregation of public schools.

Sipuel practiced law in Chickasha, Oklahoma and became head of the Social Studies Department at Langston University.  Following her retirement from Langston, she worked as corporate counsel for Automation Research System Limited in Alexandria, Virginia, the second-largest African-American owned computer corporation in the country at that time.  In 1992, three years before her death, she was appointed to the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents.

adasipuel source

 

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