Lea has a long history of social justice activism and music performance. Named by Essence Magazine as one of “25 Women Shaping the World,” Lea is a past winner of the Blues Foundation’s “Keeping the Blues Alive” award (the “Grammys of the Blues”) for her historical work on women’s contributions to that music. Lea is the recipient of the 2016 Golden Formstone Award from Baltimore’s Creative Alliance for her efforts with community arts and commitment to social justice. She was also recently hailed by the Jazz Journalists Association as the 2018 Baltimore Jazz Hero for her work in music and social justice.
In support of the Father Damien Foundation, headquarted in Brussels, Belgium, for over a decade. Lea lead Gospel concerts across Belgium with Belgian youth, church, classical and community choirs, all performing African American Gospel music to sold out audiences at cathedrals, arenas and cultural centers. She recorded three Gospel CDs raising funds for the Damien Foundation focusing on relief for those suffering with leprosy and tuberculosis in Africa, Asia and the Americas.
She has received other recognitions for her dedication to equality and justice, including being named one of the first recipients of the James Baldwin Medal for Civil Rights for her work championing LGBTQ equality. In addition: Lea served four terms on the Maryland Advisory Board for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, has worked diligently for reproductive justice for Native American women (indeed, all women), and is a staunch and vocal supporter for justice for all. Lea co-authored and coordinated the publication“Reproductive Justice in Communities of Color” for the National Abortion Federation. She has served as the Deputy Director of the ACLU of Maryland; Policy Director and Director of Community Outreach for Equality Maryland, where she directed the Maryland Black Family Alliance (MBFA) and Pride in Faith. She directed and managed the African-American Philanthropy Initiative while Program Director for the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers (ABAG).
Ms. Gilmore is the founder and director of “Umoja (meaning “Unity” in Swahili) Musica,” an international effort promoting non-violence, peace and human rights, embracing the power and reach of African-American traditional music in union with the traditional music of other cultures. The critically acclaimed first CD, “Umoja Gaelica” featured award winning African American musicians and traditional musicians from Scotland, Northern Ireland, and England, singing songs of freedom and hope. The project will be reprised and recorded in 2020 in Scotland, with a focus on youth participation.
A proud Baltimorean and graduate of Morgan State University, after the “Uprising” in Baltimore City following the death of Freddie Gray, she organized a series of “Community Sings” to bring various parts of the community together to inspire work for change. This work continues.
Lea is married to David T. Gilmore, pastor of the New Mount Zion Baptist Church in the Harlem Park neighborhood of Baltimore City. They have two wonderful sons: Jonathan and Gabriel-Michael Gilmore.