Celebrating Maude Ballou

Stanford The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute

Marting Luther King, Jr birthday is celebrated on January 15th. His birthday is remembered through oratory presentations, parades, and other events. It’s a time the community comes together to reflect on how Dr. King fought for our rights and freedoms. 

When you see photos of Dr. King, he is surrounded by men he trusted and assisted him with the cause. But there was one woman who was in the background keeping his activist life on track. Her name was Maude Larita Williams Ballou. 

Maude Ballou was an activist and Dr. King’s personal secretary. In 1952, Ballou met Jo Ann Robinson and as a member of the Women’s Political Council, she worked with Robinson to improve social conditions for Black people and organized carpools during the Montgomery bus boycott. When Dr. King was elected as president of the Montgomery Improvement Association in December 1955 Ballou became his secretary. 

Her job consisted of replying to correspondence on his behalf, managing his travel arrangements, and facilitating the success of the bus boycott. When King relocated to Atlanta in 1960, Ballou accompanied him to help establish his new office at the SCLC headquarters. Ballou rejoined her family in Petersburg, Virginia when her husband, Leonard, began work at Virginia State College in August 1960.

Ballou passed away on August 26, 2019. 

We salute Mrs. Maude Lerita Williams Ballou as we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday.

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