civil rights activist gloria richardson dandridge had no time for the madness

July 10, 2017

Gloria Richardson Dandridge is a civil rights icon best known for leading the 1960s Cambridge Movement in Cambridge, Maryland. Dandridge, who was initially reluctant to join actions organized by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) because she disagreed with their non-violence regulations, became the spokesperson for and helped create the Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee, the first adult-led affiliate of SNCC, in order to fight segregation in the city.

The Cambridge Movement started with Black residents doing sit-ins in segregated places, but soon became a full-on fight for the economic rights in the impoverished city. These protests escalated into a riot in June of 1963, with Governor J. Millard Tawes imposing martial law and sending in the National Guard. It was during this uprising that the famous photo of Dandridge pushing a bayonet out of her face was snapped. By that fall, schools, buses and hospitals were all desegregated.

The Cambridge Movement’s willingness to embrace armed self-defense and its focus on economics signaled the beginning of the Black Power phase of the civil rights movement. Dandridge was later honored on stage at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.