Last week, civil rights activist Gloria Richardson Dandridge returned to the ancestors.
She was 99.
Her granddaughter Tya Young shared that she died in her sleep Thursday in New York City and had not been ill.
Richardson rose to prominence as the head of the Cambridge Non-Violent Action Committee in the early 1960s. A photograph of her captured pushing away the bayonet of a National Guardsman became an iconic image for the civil rights struggle.
Richardson fought for equal access for Black residents in housing, education, jobs and health care.
She was a fighter until the very end.
“Racism is ingrained in this country. This goes on and on,” Richardson told the Washington Post in an interview last year. “We marched until the governor called martial law. That’s when you get their attention. Otherwise, you’re going to keep protesting the same things another 100 years from now.”
At the time, there was only one Black policeman in the city — and he was not allowed to patrol white neighborhoods or arrest whites.
Richardson worked hard to put an end to segregation.
“There was inadequate representation of Blacks in the legal system unless one was ‘a respected Negro, as they said of them,'” she said in a 1987 interview in The Evening Sun. “You could go in stores and buy, I guess for economic reasons. You could go in restaurants and order food, but you could not eat there.”
For some, the Black Lives Matter movement is an unofficial extension of Richardson’s efforts over the years.
“Everything that the Black Lives Matter movement is working at right now is a continuation of what the Cambridge Movement was doing,” Joseph R. Fitzgerald, author of the 2018 biography on Richardson titled “The Struggle is Eternal: Gloria Richardson and Black Liberation.”
“Richardson always supported the use of nonviolent direct action during protests, but once the protests were over and if Black people were attacked by whites she fully supported their right to defend themselves,” Fitzgerald said per AP News.
Richardson resigned from Cambridge, Maryland, Nonviolent Action Committee in the summer of 1964. She would go on to marry photographer Frank Dandridge and moved to New York, where she continued her work, including working for the National Council for Negro Women.
Richardson is survived by her daughters, Donna Orange and Tamara Richardson, and granddaughters Young and Michelle Price.