Sweet justice Georgia Gilmore and the Montgomery Bus Boycott

Mara Rockliff

Book - 2022

"A picture book biography about Georgia Gilmore, the woman whose cooking helped feed and fund the Montgomery bus boycott of 1956"--

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Picture books
New York : Random House Studio [2022]
Main Author
Mara Rockliff (author)
Other Authors
R. Gregory Christie, 1971- (illustrator)
First edition
Physical Description
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm
Includes bibliographical references.
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

After Rosa Parks' arrest on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus, local women organized minister Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s bus boycott, and many others in the Black community stepped up to do what they could. To raise money for ride-sharing and other expenses, a cook named Georgia Gilmore made and sold sandwiches, cakes, and pies, and she encouraged others to help as well. All the proceeds supported the cause. After Dr. King was arrested for inciting a boycott without "just cause," she testified in court about the bus system's discriminatory practices. As a result, she lost her job, but that didn't deter her from her mission. Dr. King gave her money for pots and pans, enabling her to cook for many in her home, supporting herself and the boycott. Rockliff weaves many references to Gilmore's cooking into the narrative of significant events taking place in her community. The author's note points to her place in history as one of many "courageous and persistent individuals" who made up the era's civil rights movement. Christie's richly colorful, expressive gouache paintings bring the bus boycott into focus while depicting Gilmore as the text portrays her: a down-to-earth hero who used her considerable talent, energy, and courage to work for justice.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

This mouthwatering motivational picture book centers Georgia Gilmore (1920--1990), a Black cook in Montgomery, Ala., who raised money through food sales to help support transport costs and cover fines for those participating in the Montgomery bus boycott. Rockliff relays the narrative in a smooth, easy-to-read style: "And if they couldn't find a seat--well, even standing up, they found the spare ribs and the stuffed bell peppers tasted just as good." Caldecott Honoree Christie offers realistic portraits of figures, including Martin Luther King Jr. and Gilmore herself, rendered in saturated gouache hues. This food-related profile ("A boycott! Something was cooking in Montgomery, and not just Georgia's black-eyed peas") succeeds in spotlighting a force who helped fuel the civil rights movement. Back matter includes more about Gilmore, an author's note, and sources. Ages 4--8. (Jan.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Horn Book Review

Rockliff and Christie focus their story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott on a little-heralded -- yet integral -- member of the movement, culinary whiz Georgia Gilmore (1920-1990). Once the boycott began, Gilmore and her "Club from Nowhere" (so dubbed to help members avoid retaliatory action) sold baked goods and donated their earnings to the cause. Although Gilmore did, in fact, lose her job after testifying at Dr. King's trial following his arrest for organizing the boycott, she was able to succeed when he encouraged her to start her own catering business. Gilmore's home became a place for members of the movement to gather not just to eat good food but to hash out matters relevant to the boycott. Rockliff repeats certain phrases to great effect ("Summer heated up...The boycotters trudged on. Fall passed...The boycotters plodded on") and nods to Gilmore's mouthwatering menu offerings ("The empty buses made city officials hotter than Georgia's collard greens with pepper sauce"). Christie's vivid, painterly illustrations bring the 1950s setting to life and show Gilmore's importance to the cause; she is pictured in nearly every spread, cooking, baking, bringing money to a boycott strategy meeting, and more. Appended with an "After the Boycott" page, which focuses on Gilmore's later life; an author's note on sources; and a source list. Pair with Romito and Freeman's Pies from Nowhere (rev. 11/18). Sam Bloom January/February 2022 p.137(c) Copyright 2022. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

Georgia Gilmore was just an ordinary person when she fed and funded the Montgomery Bus Boycott. "Georgia was cooking when she heard the news," the story begins. The year is 1955, and civil rights activist Rosa Parks has just been arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a White man on a bus. Gilmore had spent her entire life in Montgomery, Alabama, and was no stranger to segregation. Having had her own brush with a racist bus driver, she knew the pain of being treated unjustly. Georgia springs into action, joining her neighbors as they march through the streets in mass protest against the Montgomery bus system. Georgia begins selling pastries and dinners, including her famous crispy chicken sandwiches, keeping the people fed during Dr. Martin Luther King's church meetings. She then organizes a secret group of friends, dubbed the Club From Nowhere, to help her continue the venture. They use the money they make to support the boycott, which ultimately ends when a Supreme Court ruling makes segregation on public buses unconstitutional. Despite the hardships she experienced, Georgia persevered, eventually opening her own restaurant, which became a hub for Black community organizing. Christie's vivid acrylic paintings propel the narrative with a fine balance of pathos and power. The straightforward text uses food as an extended metaphor to underscore Georgia's tenacity and African American people's hunger for equality and justice. Young readers will find much food for thought in this inspiring profile of a lesser-known civil rights leader. (notes, author's note, sources) (Picture book biography. 5-9) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.