Last Call: Midwest cemetery prairies and the activist cook behind the civil rights movement

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Last CallLast CallLast Call is The Takeout’s online watering hole where you can chat, share recipes, and use the comment section as an open thread. Here’s what we’ve been reading/watching/listening around the office today.

Midwest cemetery prairies

(Photo: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Don’t ask what rabbit hole led me to discover this In Defense of Plants podcast about the unexpected ecological benefit of pioneer cemeteries. But check it out: Pioneer cemeteries remained unpaved and undisturbed for hundreds of years, meaning that they’re some of the last remaining refuges of original prairie landscape in the Midwest. The podcast follows an ornithologist and a botanist who explore three such cemeteries in central Illinois: Dunlap’s Prospect Cemetery, Pine Ridge Cemetery in Loda, and Pellsville Cemetery near Rankin. Spooky science really is the best kind of science. [Kate Bernot]

(Photo: William Lovelace/Express/Getty Images)

The civil rights movement’s little-known cook/activist

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is the ideal day to look back on the civil rights movement. But although you don’t really hear a lot about the food related to the movement, NPR offers an interesting chapter from that era on The Salt today. The article—and interview—“Meet The Fearless Cook Who Secretly Fed—And Funded—The Civil Rights Movement” discusses Georgia Gilmore, “the Montgomery cook, midwife and activist whose secret kitchen fed the civil rights movement.” Gilmore helped organize sales of fried chicken sandwiches, “pound cakes and sweet potato pies, fried fish and stewed greens, pork chops and rice at beauty salons, cab stands and churches”; the proceeds then supported an alternate transportation network during the 381 days of the Montgomery bus boycott. She also testified in Dr. King’s trial and was one of his favorite cooks; Southern food historian John T. Edge noted that “When King arrived in Montgomery during the 1965 march from Selma, he beelined to Gilmore’s kitchen for pork chops.” This fascinating story is well-worth a listen and/or a read, especially today. [Gwen Ihnat]


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About the author

Gwen Ihnat

Gwen Ihnat is the Editorial Coordinator for The A.V. Club.

Kate Bernot

Kate Bernot is managing editor at The Takeout and a certified beer judge.