Martha Hawkins had a dream of a restaurant in a house

Martha Hawkins had a dream of a restaurant in a house
After a period of personal struggle, Martha Hawkins has the place she always dreamed about -- a restaurant in an old house, with lines often out the door at mealtimes. (Chad Allen/Alabama NewsCenter)

When Martha Hawkins was a girl in Montgomery, she loved having the chance to play a role in the civil rights movement.

“I did meals at First Baptist Church. We made sandwiches and chips and took water and met the marchers when they would be coming from Selma,” she said.

Hawkins revered Georgia Gilmore, the Montgomery woman who organized cooks to sell their food to raise money to keep the bus boycott going after Rosa Parks’ arrest in 1955. Gilmore, encouraged by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., opened a restaurant in her home and fed the civil rights movement.

“I used to read about Dr. King and he was going to Georgia Gilmore’s house and they was eating and a lot of time they used to have her recipes in the paper,” Hawkins said. “Man, I started dreaming. That’s what I wanted.”

Before Hawkins could make her dream come to life, she would have to remake her life. She was married at 16 and dropped out of school in 10th grade. She was raped. Depression led her to attempt suicide, and she ended up in a psychiatric hospital.

Watch the video, edited by Chad Allen, to learn how Martha Hawkins put her life back together and realized her dream of owning her own restaurant, Martha’s Place.

The road to Martha’s Place was rough, but owner Martha Hawkins survived to thrive from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

During Black History Month, Alabama NewsCenter is celebrating the culture and contributions of those who have shaped our state and those working to elevate Alabama today. Visit throughout the month for stories of Alabamians past and present.

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