JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - You may know from some of Howard Ballou’s Facebook posts that his mom, Maude Ballou, wife to Leonard, was a loving and nurturing mother and grandmother, but you may not know the rich history behind her name.
Maude Ballou, an energetic young woman yearning to make a difference in the 1950′s, left a mark on the fabric of American history as the personal secretary for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from 1955 to 1960. Dr. King was leading the Montgomery Improvement Association in Alabama at the time.
Mrs. Ballou also helped him launch his Southern Christian Leadership Conference office in 1960 in Atlanta.
You can read about her experiences in a 2015 Washington Post article, when she gave a rare interview.
Dr. King and Mrs. Ballou had a solid working relationship built on trust, as noted in an inscription Dr. King penned himself. It reads, “To my dear friend(s) Maude and Leonard Ballou, whose friendship I will always cherish very deeply."
That trust was also apparent in letters that Mrs. Ballou wrote on Dr. King’s behalf.
In 2009, when Howard covered President Barack Obama’s inauguration for WLBT, he didn’t forget his mother.
“There’s one woman I’m happy did get a chance to see that day. She’s featured in this addition of Portico Magazine,” he said, holding up the publication. “She was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s first secretary with the Montgomery Improvement Association. Her name is Maude Ballou. I like to call her mom.”
Maude Ballou lived her final days close to her family, and died on Monday, August 26 at the age of 93.
Howard shared her picture on Facebook and posted “The world is truly a better place because you lived.”