A leader in the civil rights movement whose organizing in pursuit of Black liberation left an impact felt to this day, Gloria Richardson died on Thursday. She was 99.
One of Richardson’s surviving grandchildren, Tya Young, told the Associated Press that her grandmother died in her sleep.
“She did it because it needed to be done,” Young said of Richardson’s movement work. “She was born a leader.”
The subject of a well-known photograph in which she can be seen pushing away a National Guardsman’s rifle, People notes, Richardson made her most lasting impact as a leader of the Cambridge movement in Maryland, organizing demonstrations to desegregate public accommodations and improve Black people’s access to food, housing, and healthcare. As co-founder of the Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee, Richardson saw the value in nonviolent tactics, but she also believed in Black people’s right to defend themselves by any means necessary.
“I didn’t believe in nonviolence if people would come in shooting into your houses,” she said in a 2018 Topic interview.
If you have some time today, check out this 2013 Democracy Now! interview in which Richardson discusses her experiences in the Cambridge movement and the sexist strains within the postwar civil rights movement that overshadowed her and other Black women organizers’ work.