By now, most of us have seen the iconic civil rights era photo of a black female protester pushing an officer's gun away from her during a protest. Gloria Richardson's simple yet defining dismissal of the officer's threat of violence is an exceptional representation of the resilience and leadership of black women during the civil rights movement.

Richardson was on a mission of equality and was not going let anyone get in her way -- not even a gun near her face. During a 1963 protest in the segregated town of Cambridge, Maryland, officers realized Richardson, a local leader, wouldn't be leading fellow demonstrators in the direction of submissiveness, so they tried to negotiate according to a Facebook video by Topic

"If you guys agree to call off your protest, we'll negotiate with you," they said, but Richardson, who is now 96, was not having it. Why, as such an iconic figure during the movement, did Richardson's name seem to have gotten lost in history?

Many civil rights leaders happened to be in their late teens through early 30s, and Richardson was a "middle-aged" woman at the peak of her protesting years. She pioneered desegregation. Along with Attorney General at the time, Robert Kennedy,  Richardson negotiated the Treaty of Cambridge, which guaranteed desegregation of housing, schools, hospitals and employment. 

Richardson also worked with Malcolm X in 1964 and co-founded ACT, a national organization centered around black liberation.

The Topic video, below, highlights what other civil rights pioneers and Richardson's fellow brothers and sisters in the movement think of her indelible impact on the Cambridge community.


Richardson became, what Cambridge Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley, calls the leader throughout the community of Cambridge's civil rights movement -- "the mother." A leader not just in Maryland, but up and down the East Coast, her impact spanned from New York to the Deep South. Today, neighbors in Baltimore, Maryland, still revere her, and her name shall not be forgotten.