Monday, May 27, 2013

From the annals of the US Civil Rights Movement 1964

From the annals of the US Civil Rights Movement: a protest in Cambridge, Maryland in 1964. In the early 1960s, a leading civil rights group, The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) targeted Cambridge for a campaign to desegregate public accommodations (schools, housing, retail stores, etc.). Gloria Richardson & her high school daughter, Donna, were leading figures in the movement leading many demonstrations. In summer 1963, the US Department of Justice under Robert F. Kennedy negotiated the “Treaty of Cambridge” enjoining the city to end de facto segregation but allowing this ruling to go up for vote in a public referendum.

Segregationists mobilized racist & conservative forces against what they called “forced integration” & incited white violence against the Black community. The vote on the referendum divided the Civil Rights Movement, with Richardson calling for a boycott because it was a sly maneuver to outsmart the movement & Martin Luther King, Jr. calling on voters to mobilize since the struggle for the vote was so pivotal in the Deep South.

Mostly importantly, the governor of Maryland moved in the National Guard ostensibly to keep the peace between the Black & white communities. But since the Black community  was under attack by white vigilantes we would expect to see photos of the National Guard holding back white gangs from entering the Black community, not assaulting civil rights activists, as we see here.

Richardson was radicalized by her experience & went on to work with Malcolm X & others to build a new civil rights group ACT “to counteract the ‘paralyzing’ effect that mainstream civil rights organizations such as the NAACP & SCLC” had on the Black liberation movement. She worked with Malcolm X until his assassination on February 21st 1965.

(Photo by Danny Lyon, a photojournalist who chronicled the US Civil Rights Movement)

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