Gloria Richardson passed away on July 15, 2021, at the age of 99. Tributes have already poured in for the Black freedom movement icon. The Washington Post referred to Richardson as a “firebrand civil rights activist.” Having come first to prominence in the early 1960s as a result of a civil rights campaign in her hometown of Cambridge, Maryland, Richardson’s life and legacy should be seen in light of two critical intellectual topics: the radicalism of the Civil Rights and Black Nationalist movements of the 1960s, and the importance of African American women to both movements before, during, and after the 1960s.
When Richardson took on a leadership role with the Cambridge struggle in the early 1960s, she was already in her early 40s. She does not fit the model associated with so many key figures of the era—late 20s to early 30s, and male. But her impact was felt well beyond the borders of Cambridge, Maryland.
Cambridge, Maryland itself offers a challenge to traditional civil rights narratives. The campaign for freedom in Cambridge required the presence of the National Guard for eighteen months—before the “long, hot summers” that characterized the late 1960s,...
Referred to as the “lady general of the civil rights struggle in Cambridge,” Richardson had come to represent the early ideological tightrope many activists had come to walk during the 1960s and early 1970s. By 1974, her confrontational style in Cambridge — which included advocating for both civil disobedience and armed self-defense — seemed perfectly in tune with what the Black Panther Party and other radical organizations had become known for...
It should also be noted that Richardson’s activism did not start in the 1960s. As a student at Howard University in the late 1930s, she participated in demonstrations against a local drug store that did not hire African American workers. In that sense, Richardson herself was an embodiment of the idea of the “long civil rights movement,” combining as she did the different radical traditions of the New Deal and Great Society eras into an effective movement for change and progress in Cambridge, Maryland... The centrality of Black women to campaigns for Black freedom is also seen in Richardson’s biography, as is the refusal of Black men, time and again, to recognize them for their leadership and importance. Richardson was one of several Black women not allowed to speak at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, despite her critical leadership in Cambridge. https://www.aaihs.org/gloria-richardson-and-black-womens-intellectual-history/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=gloria-richardson-and-black-womens-intellectual-history
HBCU Shout out - Howard University Alumna
This ICONIC photo shows her fearlessness!!You can imagine she's saying, "Get that isht out of here!" Can't you?
Rest in Power, Our Sister and Leader Gloria!! 103319