Gloria Hayes Richardson oral history interview conducted by Joseph Mosnier in New York, New York, 2011-07-19.
GR: Oh, you mean when they celebrated - oh, I thought it was simply amazing! It was beyond my expectations. The people who arranged it were very young at that time. I didn’t know where the idea came from, or why, but it amazed me that the whole town was involved.
JM: Not just African-Americans.
GR: Oh, yeah! No, that’s what I mean when I say the whole town was involved. I didn’t realize that when I accepted it, but once I started on that day through there - so it was like really overwhelming. As I said, when I got to the banquet at the Elks’ Home that night and got up to make the speech, I thought mainly probably from ex-Movement people and stuff, I saw the mixed audience. I thought, “Oh, my God! I can’t - I have to speak to everybody!” [Laughs] So, then, I just had to kind of make up stuff. I don’t even know what it was I said now. But it was overwhelming. And then, the awards came from all kinds of people in government, which, you know, I did not expect. And then, of course, the new mayor had just been elected. It was just, like, overwhelming.
I had been, earlier - was that earlier? The thing at Washington College?
JM: I’m not certain of those dates.
GR: In retrospect, I’m not sure. But I was surprised at that. And the only reason why I accepted that is because, one, it was on the Eastern Shore, two, did not ever, had not ever remembered hearing about it, and because the president said he had learned about Cambridge by listening to Malcolm X’s “Grassroots” speech [“Message to the Grass Roots”]. So, I thought that was interesting, but, um - and it was.
But, as I told Baird Tipson [president of Washington College], if I had known they were there in the ’60s, we would have been down there, a private - what is it - the fourth school in the country, upper-class school, all white, on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I used to go to Chestertown [Maryland] with my cousin while he played poker with Lloyd Price and stuff, and the guy - [1:30:00] all these bands and things would come through, and had no idea that anything like that existed in Chestertown! And, when I got there, I found that they give a certain percentage of scholarships now to those kids that come out of high school in Kent County.
JM: Any final thoughts, things we haven’t touched on?
GR: No, I think this country is going to hell in a hand basket, but other than that -
JM: Hmm, what makes you, uh, what makes you discouraged? I know there are many things that might be on that list.