In this episode entitled, "I'm Not Gonna Let Anyone Turn Me Around", we pay homage to Gloria Richardson Dandridge, nationally known Civil Rights Leader of the movement in Cambridge, Maryland.
In 1961, the Civil Rights Movement appeared in Cambridge, Maryland by way of the Freedom Riders. Cambridge was thoroughly segregated and at the time, the unemployment rate was more than 40%. Gloria Richardson’s teenage daughter, Donna, became involved with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee’s effort to desegregate public accommodations.
While Gloria was interested in the cause, she was not committed to some of their fundamentals. When the SNCC-led protests faltered in 1962, Gloria and other parents created the Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee (CNAC) which became the only adult-led SNCC affiliate in the civil rights organization’s history. CNAC enlarged the scope of grievances to include housing and employment discrimination and inadequate health care. Richardson was selected to lead CNAC.
This Richardson-led effort differed from most other civil rights campaigns of the era. It took place in a border state rather than the Deep South. It addressed a much wider array of issues rather than the one or two that motivated other campaigns.
Protests and civil unrest in 1963, prompted Maryland Governor J. Millard Tawes to send in the Maryland National Guard. The Guard remained in the city, which was effectively under martial law, for over a year. The Cambridge Movement also drew the attention of U.S. Attorney General Bobby Kennedy who attempted to broker an agreement between Cambridge’s white political leaders and Richardson’s CNAC.