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  • Writer's pictureAlli Myatt

Day 4 of #29LoveLettersToBlackWomen: Gloria Richardson

If the statement "Hell Nah" were a person, it certainly would have been the Great Gloria Richardson!

You may have seen the famous picture of Ms. Richardson pushing away the barrel of a rifle held by National Guardsman. When the picture was taken in 1963, Ms. Richardson's city, Cambridge, Maryland, was under martial law. The year before the state legislature had passed an anti-discrimination law that mandated desegregation across the state. White business owners refused to comply and the state was doing nothing about it. So civil rights activists like Gloria Richardson turned to social pressure to achieve change.

Gloria Richardson led the group Cambridge Nonviolent Action Group (CNAG) and began using civil disobedience tools like protests and boycotts to advocate for desegregation, better employment opportunities and fair housing. Although the CNAG was founded on nonviolent principles, they also believed in the tenet, "Don't Start None Won't Be None." After being shot at by white people pissed that Black people were challenging the status quo in Maryland, civil rights activists in Cambridge began carrying weapons. And apparently made it quite clear they would meet fire with fire. During the period the city was under martial law, Gloria Richardson met with Attorney General Robert Kennedy to negotiate the "Treaty of Cambridge" intended to end the violence and hold local politicians and business owners accountable to make real change in the city. Not surprisingly, these white leaders once again wiggled out of accountability and didn't follow through on the promises made in the treaty but the treaty is still seen as an important event in the civil rights movement.

On the fight for freedom, Gloria Richardson once said, "A first-class citizen does not beg for freedom. A first-class citizen does not plead to the white power structure to give him something that the whites have no power to give or take away. Human rights are human rights, not white rights.”

For her work in Cambridge, Gloria Richardson was one of only 6 women seated on stage of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in August 1963. Ms. Richardson was truly a force. From her work, I've learned the power of being a troublemaker. Policies and laws only get us so far when we are working towards social change. Sometimes you have to kick the hornets nest.

This #BlackHistoryMonth, I'm celebrating 29 Black women who have influenced me through the ways they pursue their own liberation. Black women's work is often unrecognized and not cited, and this month I'm determined to pass out a few flowers to Black women. #Day4 #29LoveLettersToBlackWomen #GiveBlackWomenTheirFlowers

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