Gloria Richardson and CNAC:
Breaking Racial and Economic Barriers in Cambridge, Maryland

Richardson's 1963 Revolution

In 1963, Gloria Richardson and CNAC led an uprising in Cambridge, Maryland. The uprising, which lasted 3 days, was born from the escalating tension between Cambridge’s black and white communities after discussions of economic and racial justice had dissolved.

“All of us, in Cambridge and throughout America will have to sacrifice and risk our personal lives and future in a nonviolent battle that could turn into civil war. For now, Negroes throughout the nation owe it to themselves and to their Country to have Freedom — all of it, here and now!”
-Gloria Richardson, Freedomways, 1963

Richardson and National Guard, Dorchester County, 1963

During the uprising, buildings were set on fire, windows were broken and there was heavy gunfire. Because of this violence, a curfew was put upon the citizens and the National Guard was called in to enforce a ban on those demonstrations. Finally, after weeks of intense violence, a Biracial Human Relations Commission was formed.

“Despite the presence of the National Guard and the injunction against street demonstrations, the situation in Cambrige is intolerable for the Negro. Our people are determined that any measures that must be taken to correct these conditions will be taken. This includes street demonstrations should they prove necessary.”

​​​​​​​-Gloria Richardson, Washington Post, 1964


Washington Post, 1964

The Human Relations Committee included representatives from the Kennedy administration including Attorney General Robert Kennedy as well as civil rights leaders and activists from Cambridge which included Richardson and Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), John Lewis. Richardson and CNAC’s demands included a $2 minimum wage, a promise of more jobs for black people, and an end to school segregation.

Human Relations Commission, Politico, 1963

Human Relations Commission, Politico, 1963

The Human Relations Committee eventually was able to form an agreement known as the Treaty of Cambridge. The agreement temporarily brought an end to the violence and broke barriers in Cambridge by laying out a path for the future integration of the city. The treaty met many of Richardson’s demands including school integration. It also included steps towards economic justice, like provisions for public housing, and committed the government to the integration of public facilities and the creation of a human rights commission. The treaty laid out a viable path to integration, but the Public Facilities Committee refused to enact it, arguing that the treaty should be put to the public in the form of a referendum. Richardson vehemently disagreed, calling on Cambridge’s black citizens to boycott the vote. However, white and black moderates voted and the amendment passed.

"In the name of all the black and white people in America this type of precedent would have laid people bare to the whims of dishonest, big business politicians who would piously use "the referendum" as a tool to shove down the throats of an unsuspecting and unwary racial or economic minority any type of racially punitive or economically punitive legislation, on a local, state or federal level."
​-Gloria Richardson, Freedomways, 1964

"What’s wrong with a businessman selecting his customers? There is nothing morally wrong about it. There is nothing legally wrong about it. So . . . let’s keep it that way."

-Dorchester Business and Citizens Association, Baltimore Magazine, 1963

“A first-class citizen does not beg for freedom. A first-class citizen does not plead to the white power structure to give him something that the whites have no power to give or take away. Human rights are human rights, not white rights.”

-Richardson on the referendum, Freedomways, 1963

The Civil Non-Violent Action Committee

The 1967 Uprising