Up until 1961, 40-year-old Gloria Richardson had mostly stayed out of the fight for equality, preferring to encourage her eldest daughter, Donna, to fight with SNCC against injustices faced in the segregated city of Cambridge, Maryland.
But when The Daily Banner described her child’s moral stand as “when cancer invades a healthy organism,” Richardson came out swinging!
She convinced SNCC to approve the formation of the adult affiliate, Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee.
And it’s a good thing she did, because in the summer of 1963, street riots between white and Black citizens made everyone question if peaceful exchange could do any good.
Richardson had her doubts.
Her political pull helped temporarily calm conflicts stirred by “the white community’s loss of confidence” in Black citizens’ silence about the tyrannies of injustice.
But she soon became sure that peace wasn’t always the answer.
When politicians patronized her to smile for photo ops and show gratitude for their peace treaty theatrics, she responded by strengthening her own connections to more aggressive leaders like Malcolm X and Fannie Lou Hamer.
Sure enough, the Cambridge Movement soon inspired Black people across the country to forfeit pacifism and assert their Black power.