“Chronicle of a Death Foretold”
Gloria Richardson, the Cambridge Movement,
and the Radical Black Activist Tradition
The Winchester rifle should have a place of honor in
—Ida Wells Barnett (1892)
The choice that Cambridge and the rest of the nation fi-
nally faces is between progress and anarchy, between
witnessing change and experiencing destruction.
—Gloria Richardson (1964)
It never once entered my head that women could not
be civil rights leaders or organizers.
—Kathleen Cleaver (1997)1
Gloria St. Clair Richardson was a militant black leader, who in her refusal in 1963 and 1964 to accept nonviolence as the primary strategy in civil rights protests, foretold the death of the nonviolent Civil Rights Movement most closely associated with Martin Luther King, Jr. However, Richardson, who became one of the most feared and militant “up-south” black leaders in the early 1960s, has largely been a marginalized figure in early published accounts of the modern Civil Rights Movement, written for the most part by male scholars and former activists. Although in recent years discussions of Gloria Richardson and her “militant” grassroots movement in Cambridge, Mary