She Refused To Back Down Even When The KKK Threatened Her

black woman writing in blank journal
Via Pxhere
L. Graciella Maiolatesi
January 14, 2022

Tensions were high during the 1950s in Montgomery, AL. Maude Ballou, a mother and activist known for her strict work ethic, regularly faced racist harassment. 

When Martin Luther King, Jr. requested that Ballou be his personal secretary, she had to think carefully. She’d declined his previous offers – that kind of national visibility would increase the danger of violence!

Regardless, Ballou agreed, becoming  MLK’s right-hand woman. She booked flights, edited speeches, co-organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and more. Historians say 85% of MLK’s letters during the Montgomery period were in Ballou's handwriting. 

MLK relied on Ballou for good reason – she risked everything for their work. Even her life.

In 1957 Ralph Abernathy's house was bombed, just down the street from Ballou’s home. Four days later, she was 21st on a list of “persons and churches most vulnerable to violent attacks!” 

Soon, the KKK were watching Ballou from her office windows, and a member of the White Citizens' Council threatened to harm her children if she didn’t stop working with MLK!

 But Ballou “didn't have time to worry about what might happen, or what had happened, or what would happen,” she later said. There was work to do.

King himself praised her “devotion” and “sacrifice.”

Ballou taught us that the work of Black liberation takes courage. Like her, we must persevere, even when faced with danger!

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