State declares Feb. 11 Gloria Richardson Day
1960s with a nonviolent approach, focusing on public accommodations and continuing the cause with other activists in the Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee when segregation remained in the city.
“Maryland recognizes the courageous leadership and commitment of Gloria H. Richardson during the civil rights moment of the 1960s,” Rutherford said. “During a time of racial segregation, Gloria H. Richardson became one of the strongest advocates for economic rights, as well as desegregation. Mar yland is proud to join in honoring Gloria H. Richardson for her contributions in the fight to achieve racial equality during a defining era of our nation’s struggle for civil rights for all.”
CAMBRIDGE — Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford celebrated Black History Month in Cambridge Saturday, and presented a proclamation to civil rights leader Gloria Richardson, declaring Feb. 11 Gloria Richardson Day in Maryland.
Richardson, 94, a Cambridge native, now lives in New York and was unable to attend the ceremony at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in person due to a snowstorm. The snow did not stop Richardson from being part of the ceremony as Rutherford was able to present the proclamation from Gov. Larry Hogan to her in front of a large-screen TV via Skype.
She is credited with leading civil rights demonstrations in Cambridge during the
Richardson thanked the standing-room only crowd at the church.
“I think this is fantastic that you all put this together,” she said. “It may not be perfect in Cambridge, but there is a big difference from back then when I came along.”
Richardson also thanked all the people who joined her during the civil rights protests back in the 1960s. She said none of the changes today would have been possible without people coming together back then.
“We are working from your platform,” said Cambridge native and Eastern Shore Network for Change co-founder Dion Banks.
Rutherford’s visit to Cambridge also marked the Black History Month event “Reflections on Pine Street: Cambridge Commemorates the Civil Rights Movement, Community and Change,” which marked the 50th anniversary of the 1967 race riots that occurred in Cambridge and the subsequent burning of the elementary school and other dwellings on Pine Street.
The event coincides with the upcoming July celebration “50 Years After the Fire: A Commemoration of Our History,” a commemoration of summer 1967 and the fire on Pine Street. July’s celebration will be hosted by Eastern Shore Network for Change, which also organized Saturday’s Black History Month event.
Local and state dignitaries joined Rutherford for the service, including Cambridge Mayor VictoriaJackson-Stanley, who was a child during the 1960s civil rights movement in Cambridge. She later became the first woman and African-American to become mayor in Cambridge.
She thanked Richardson for being an inspiration to her when she was a child.
“A young girl, looking up at this tall, beautiful woman more than 50 years ago, was part of the civil rights movement,” she said. “I saw her and said, ‘Wow, that is a beautiful woman.’ I just followed her and listened. I marveled at the power of this woman.
“As a young child, I didn’t get the significants of that at the time, but now I know what I was looking at,” she said. “I offered my personal congratulations to Gloria Richardson. (She) is a woman who taught us to stand up and affirm for what we know is right. To love others as God loves us.
“Today, we also honor this woman who took her time to teach us the hard lessons of life — such as stay focused, and believe that if you stay focused, your good work will be noticed. I still look up to this tall, beautiful woman. I say thank you Gloria Richardson for the example you set for us, for me, for the city of Cambridge.”
Before the service, Rutherford toured Pine Street, the location of the 1967 riots. He reflected about the tour when speaking to the crowd gathered inside the church.
“It is proven that it wasn’t just in Los Angeles where the struggle for equal rights reached a boiling point,” he said. “That struggle find itself right here in Maryland, in Cambridge in itself. It is an honor to be here in this community to help celebrate Black History Month in Maryland.”
Rutherford spoke about Carter G. Woodson, who said Black History Month was not necessarily to exclude any groups but to make sure the contributions of black Americans were being recognized.
“In fact, he stated we should emphasize not Negro history but the Negro in history,” he said. “What it means to me is not a history of selective races or nations but the history the world, void of any natural bias, race hate and religious prejudice.
“I believe that here in Maryland, we are moving in that direction,” he said. “This time offers an opportunity recognize and celebrate the countless contributions of African-Americans. Over the years, so many people have paved the way for all of us. We have come a long way in terms of the struggle for equal opportunity and equal rights.
“Much progress has been made since the unrest of 50 years ago,” he said. “But all of us recognize there is still much more to be done. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the legacy of Dr. (Martin Luther) King (Jr.), a man who is remembered not just as a pillar of society but for his message of equality for all. All of us still share in that dream. And all of us share in making that dream a reality.”
Dorchester County will realize its own dream in March with the grand opening of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park and Visitor Center.
The state park and visitor center is located at 4068 Golden Hill Road in Church Creek near Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge.
Tubman was born in Dorchester County and lived here as a slave until she was nearly 30 years old. She escaped slavery in 1849 yet risked her life to return to the Eastern Shore many times to help others in their journey to freedom. She helped about 70 slaves escape and led them north. Some went as far north as Canada.
The state park is about 17 acres and features a 10,000-square foot Leadership in Energy and Environment Design Silver rated visitor center, legacy garden and an open-air pavilion with a stone fireplace.
“We prepare to celebrate her vision, her sacrifice, her honor and the way she has impacted the world right here from Cambridge,” Banks said. “These are examples of how hope, faith, courage and strength can change the world. Proof that no matter how many years go by, we are still in the spirit of greatness, which leads us to the civil rights era — one of the most powerful era in our nation’s history.”
The summer of 1967 was the height of civil rights movement in Cambridge. On the evening of July 24, 1967, a fire erupted on Pine Street, the heart of the African-American community. An elementary school, several businesses and a church were destroyed in the fire.
“This year marks a pivotal time in our nation’s history,” Banks said. “It is also an historic time for the history of our great city. It is the 50th anniversary of the civil rights movement, our civil rights movement – also known as the long, hot summer of 1967.
“It’s our true story of survival, a story of strength,” he said. “It is a story of perseverance. It is a story about faith. A faith that is unchanging and forever encompassing. It is a story about the same faith that led us all here today to honor the struggle of the people who fought for social justice, equality, rights, and to sum it us, it is all about civil rights.”
Banks said Dorchester County must continue to create hope for children with new experiences of love, compassion, celebration and motivation.
“All of these things need to be on every corner, so no matter where a child goes, it spreads this type of love,” he said. “We must commit to fighting for the change everyone seeks. We must commit to not losing any child to drugs. We must commit to not losing a child by not graduating from school. We must commit to the future of our city and our great county.
“To do this, we must draw strength from each other,” he said. “We have to have that one thing that creates a fire in your belly. That one thing that keeps you up at night. That one thing that you don’t have all the answers to but you realize you have to do something.
“That is when faith becomes a comforter and God starts to direct your path,” he said. “These civil rights heroes sacrificed it all because their passion and purpose burned so deep inside of them that it called them to act.
“Gloria Richardson, who we honor today, played a strategic role in one of the most prolific civil rights moments of all time,” he said. “Her dedication to change, civil rights, human justice would go on to affect local and national politics. I want you to know that she is a living legend. The power of who I’m going to be, and the story’s about Gloria Richardson motivated me all throughout my life.”
Rutherford, along with Sen. Addie Eckardt, R37-Mid-Shore; Del. Sheree Sample-Hughes, D-37ADorchester-Wicomico; and Del. Johnny Mautz, R-37BTalbot, presented proclamations to Banks and ESHC cofounder Kisha Petticolas for the Cambridge Civil Rights 50th anniversary series.
Eastern Shore Network for Change’s “50 Years After the Fire: A Commemoration of Our History” series will be held July 21 to 24.
The weekend will feature walking tours, art exhibits, book readings, a gala dinner, prayer breakfast and more. For more information about the organization, visit it on Facebook and its website, www.esnccambridgemd. com/50th-anniversar y-civilrights.
Follow Caroline/ Dorchester Editor Dustin Holt on Twitter @Dustin_ StarDem.
Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, right, presents a proclamation to Cambridge Civil Rights Leader Gloria Richardson Saturday at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Cambridge. Snow in New York kept Richardson from making the ceremony but she participated in the event on a large-screen television through Skype. Dion Banks holds a cell phone to broadcast the ceremony to Richardson.
Eastern Shore Network for Change co-founder Dion Banks, center, raises his fist and leads the crowd in a moment of solidarity during Saturday’s Black History Month ceremony at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Cambridge. Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford attended the event and presented proclamations for the ceremony.
Sen. Addie Eckardt, R-37-Mid-Shore; Del. Sheree Sample-Hughes, D-37A-Dorchester-Wicomico; and Del. Johnny Mautz, R-37B-Talbot, present proclamations Saturday, Feb. 11, to Eastern Shore Network for Change co-founder Dion Banks for the Cambridge Civil Rights 50th anniversary series.
Cambridge Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley, left, presents Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford with a Harriet Tubman painting at Saturday’s Black History Month ceremony at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Cambridge.
Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, left, Eastern Shore Network for Change co-founder Dion Banks and Cambridge-Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley unveil Saturday the ESNC’s banner for the upcoming series “50 Years After the Fire: A Commemoration of Our History,” a commemoration of the summer of 1967 and the fire on Pine Street
A member of the audience uses her phone to broadcast Saturday’s Black History Month ceremony at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Cambridge.