Roots of Resistance: Gloria Richardson

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As y’all know, white folks have been acting really out of pocket lately thanks to the efforts of Donald Trump. I can barely get through five minutes of social media scrolling without seeing Donald Trump’s quick weave or an example of some other irrelevant saltine that decided to use their hands to make the country white again. Understandably, Black folks ain’t havin’ it. I’ve seen several social media posts that are warning Dwight Folks that if they runneth up, they shall get doneth up. I’m all for it, at least, until my fellow millennial throw shade at the elders and ancestors in the midst of this hoopla.

grandparents

Those are a few examples of many and while I get the sentiment, it’s disrespectful as hell. While racism and oppression is still a major issue in this society, albeit the world, most of us haven’t dealt with half the trauma and abuse our grandparents endured. The same people talking about “we aren’t our grandparents” would probably pitch a fit if their phone charger went missing and couldn’t bust a grape in a fruit fight. Hell, many of y’all won’t show up to a rally or march unless it’s a trending topic. On top of that, this type of thought is historically inaccurate. Black people have been fighting and resisting since we stepped foot on this soil. Black resistance has come in so many forms including throwing hands, brandishing arms and a simple hand gesture or phrase.

So, rather than snatching edges, I’ve decided to dedicate a blog post a week to sharing examples of historical moments of Black resistance and the people behind them.

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This iconic picture occasionally makes its way around the internet as a meme but the woman in this photo, Gloria Richardson Dandridge was a major figure in the civil rights movement, especially in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Despite being touted as a utopia for peaceful racial separation, Cambridge was rife with conflict to the point where the National Guard had to occupy the city. The National Guard had been trying to prevent a protest and Richardson was in talks with the head general when the incident that led to that famous picture occurred.

Richardson, in an interview for the book Generation on Fire, described the scene.

“I had been inside a little shoeshine place talking to General Geltson, the head of the National Guard unit in town when I head this bang. We thought it was bullets so we went crashing out of there. When I got out front to see what was happening, this Guard charged me. I was furious, so I pushed his rifle away and cursed at him.”                

Smacking that gun was only one example of Richardson’s defiant spirit. Despite being the head of the Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee, she was admittedly not “committed to nonviolence” and neither was her organization. “We weren’t nonviolent,”recalls Richardson. “White folks would come there shooting at your houses and people responded.” Her approach to activism drew the ire of prominent figures in the struggle including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The feelings were mutual. Richardson’s conflict with Dr. King began when SNCC first started their grassroots efforts in Cambridge and the latter turned down an invite from the burgeoning activists unless they paid an honorarium and suggested they wait a few years. As the movement gained traction in Cambridge, Dr. King’s interest was piqued and he decided to pay them a visit. Richardson and her crew weren’t having it.

“When we heard that, we held a press conference to say we would meet him halfway across the bridge and turn him right around. What was he going to do, now that we had done everything ourselves? He was going to come in He was going to come in and play big shot? We wanted no part of that.” 

The visit never happened.

 

Sources:

Generation on Fire: Voices of Protest from the 1960s (via Google Books)

Democracy Now! Interview

The Root

 

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0 thoughts on “Roots of Resistance: Gloria Richardson

  1. Courtney says:

    Oh thank you for sharing and educating me today, sis. Also, welcome back to blogging! It’s always good to hear your voice and learn from your perspective in the Interwebs.

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