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Gloria Richardson, pioneer in civil rights, passes away at 99

Tya Young, Richardson's granddaughter, stated that Richardson died peacefully in her sleep in New York City on Thursday. Young also said Richardson was not ill.

Young stated that she did it because she had to, and she was born to be a leader.

Richardson was the first woman leader of a sustained grassroots civil rights movement besides the Deep South. She was instrumental in organizing and leading the Cambridge Movement on Maryland's Eastern Shore, which included sit-ins at desegregated restaurants, bowling alleys, and movie theatres. This protest marked an early phase of the Black Power movement.

Joseph R. Fitzgerald wrote "The Struggle Is Eternal: Gloria Richardson, Black Liberation" a biography of Richardson in 2018.

Richardson was the leader of protests against bread and butter economic issues such as jobs, access to health care and adequate housing.

Fitzgerald stated, "Everything the Black Lives Matter Movement is doing right now is a continuation and enhancement of what the Cambridge Movement was doing."

Richardson argued for Black people's right to defend themselves against attack in pursuit of these goals.

Fitzgerald stated that Richardson supported nonviolent direct actions during protests. However, Fitzgerald supported Blacks' right to defend themselves once protests ended and they were attacked by whites.

Richardson was born in Baltimore, and she later moved to Cambridge, Maryland's Dorchester county -- the same county Harriet Tubman was raised in. When she was 16 years old, Richardson entered Howard University. She protested segregation in a Washington drugstore during her time at Howard University.

Richardson was present at the 1962 meeting of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Atlanta. He later joined the board.

After peaceful sit-ins in Cambridge turned violent, Gov. J. Millard Tawes declared martial laws. Richardson refused to stop the protests when Calvin Mowbray, the Cambridge mayor, asked Richardson. Richardson was also unwilling to end the arrests of Black protesters. June 11th saw rioting by white supremacists and Tawes summoned the National Guard.

Richardson and Robert Kennedy met while the city was still under National Guard protection to discuss what would become known as the "Treaty of Cambridge." This treaty allowed equal access to public accommodations in Cambridge in exchange for a one year moratorium on demonstrations.

Richardson was a signatory of the treaty but had never committed to ending the demonstrations. Only the 1964 Civil Rights Act was able to end the demonstrations.

She was a leading woman civil rights activist in the country and inspired young activists to continue protesting racial inequality through the 1960s and 1970s.

Richardson, one of six "fighters for liberty" women on the program, was on the stage during the pivotal March on Washington 1963. She was allowed to say "hello", but before the microphone was taken, however.

Fitzgerald stated that she was well-known throughout Black America, despite Richardson's three-year tenure as Cambridge's leader in Black Power.

Fitzgerald stated that while she was active for only three years, she was front and center of a high-stakes Black liberation movement. Fitzgerald added, "She's been threatened." She's been threatened with her life by white supremacist terrorists, who have called her home and threatened her life.

Richardson quit the Cambridge, Maryland Nonviolent Action Committee in 1964. After divorcing her first husband, Richardson married Frank Dandridge, a photographer, and they moved to New York, where she worked various jobs, including at the National Council for Negro Women.

Donna Orange and Tamara Richardson are her daughters. Young and Michelle Price are her grandchildren.

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