Rev. Richard Gleason


Rev. Richard Gleason was born on December 1, 1936, in Michigan and grew up poor in a small, all-white, conservative rural community in northern Ohio. He went to seminary, first in Tennessee and then in Chicago, the first in his family to attend college where he first saw Blacks. After he was ordained, Rev. Gleason moved into a predominately Black segregated part of Chicago where lived for 20 years. After watching the violence of the first Freedom Ride in 1961, he traveled to Atlanta and joined as a Freedom Rider on the June 2, 1961, bus from Montgomery to Jackson, where he was arrested and jailed. Rev. Gleason remained active in the Movement, attending the 1963 March on Washington as well as the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March. He befriended Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Mahalia Jackson and other Movement leaders. Rev. Gleason devoted his life to supporting racial, civil, and social justice causes in Chicago. He moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan where he lives in semi-retirement. screen capture of Richard Gleason, November 9, 2020.

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Date: November 9, 2020


  • Lead: Anthony Sharp ('21)

  • Support: Sam Yancey (‘22) and Sarah Barnes (‘21)

  • Instructor: Howard Levin, Director of Educational Innovation

Location: Recorded via Zoom teleconferencing system. Rev. Gleason was at his home in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The interview team was in their separate homes throughout the San Francisco Bay Area during the “shelter in place” order due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Duration: 97 min


Click image above to access video of the full interview.

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