Then and Now: Leaders of Black History; Gloria Richardson

Gloria Richardson was a very resilient and prominent figure who wanted to fix the racial inequality and segregation in Cambridge, Maryland. A pioneering activist in the civil rights movement, Richardson led the Cambridge Movement, a series of protests against discrimination.

Richardson was born on May 6, 1922 in Baltimore, Maryland. Richardson was raised in a very privileged household as her grandfather was a very wealthy and eminent citizen in Cambridge. Growing up, Richardson was aware of the institutional racism throughout her town and a firsthand victim when her own father and uncle passed away due to the denial of health services because of the color of their skin.

Richardson’s daughter, Donna, was a part of Cambridge’s own civil rights movement, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). SNCC was an effort to desegregate Cambridge. Richardson refused to join because of the nonviolent idea, believing that more action would be necessary.

After SNCC’s delay, other parents including Richardson created the Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee (CNAC) to follow up. The CNAC had a very different approach. It was located in a border state, and attacked a variety of topics unlike other SNCC committees. The CNAC rallies were more violent, and the Maryland National Guard remained in Cambridge for a year due to their protests.

The CNAC focused on social justice and armed self defense, and it sparked the idea of ‘black power’ in the civil rights movement. She was offered the Treaty of Cambridge, where it was proposed to vote on right of access to public accommodations. Richardson refused, stating that “A first-class citizen does not beg for freedom”.

She is known as a strong-willed, determined, radical activist. She taught all of us that we should not settle for what should be considered our human rights.

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