May is a month where we celebrate mothers. Gloria Richardson is often referred to as the mother of the Cambridge Movement. This civil rights struggle occurred in the early 1960’s in the town of Cambridge on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The movement (and later riot) was in response to the segregation of many businesses and neighborhoods in the town. As well as equal employment opportunities and housing in the African-American community.
Gloria, who is a graduate of Howard University, helped to establish organizations addressing the African-American community’s concerns about civil rights. She was a leader in promoting black pride within her community. At the time, she was recognized as one of the major figures in the Civil Rights Movement. She once said, “We weren’t going to stop until we got it, and if violence occurred, then we would have to accept that.”
In July of 1963, about a month after the riots, Gloria signed “The Treaty of Cambridge’ along with the Attorney General Robert by F. Kennedy, as well as state and local officials. The Attorney General along with the Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee (CNAC) and the local government, reached an agreement that would prevent further violence. It would desegregate public facilities, establish human rights committees, and create provisions for public housing. The agreement fell through when the local government demanded that the treaty be passed by a local referendum.
During the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Ms. Richardson was honored with five other female leaders by being seated on the stage. However, none of them were allowed to speak to the crowd.
Check out her thoughts on it here:
Later, Gloria married and moved to New York City, where she worked locally in Harlem on civil rights and economic development. In 2018, Joseph R. Fitzgerald wrote Gloria’s biography entitled,”The Struggle is Eternal: Gloria Richardson and Black Liberation.” Ms. RIchardson is 99 years young and still resides in New York City with her daughter.