In Memoriam: Gwendolyn Greene Britt

Gwendolyn Greene Britt


Gwendolyn Greene was born and raised in Washington, DC. As a Howard University undergraduate, and member of the campus SNCC affiliate the Nonviolent Action Group, at age 18 Gwen joined a sit-in on the carrousel at Maryland’s segregated Glen Echo Amusement Park in June 1960. The students were arrested for trespassing. Gwen was a plaintiff in the case which eventually went to the U.S. Supreme Court which held that the local government had illegally enforced private segregation. Gwen left Howard and joined the Freedom Rides in 1961, spending 45 days in a Mississippi jail for sitting in a whites-only train station. She worked in voter registration in McComb, MS with SNCC, telling the Baltimore Sun in an interview that a person’s right to vote “is his or her badge of citizenship and without it all other rights are in jeopardy.”

In 1962 she married fellow SNCC worker Travis Britt. Gwen later served in the Maryland State Senate. She successfully shepherded a bill to restore voting rights to ex-offenders, and just before her death in January 2008 had agreed to be the lead sponsor of a bill to legalize same-sex marriages in Maryland.

Gwendolyn Greene