Amelia Boynton Robinson, a Pivotal Figure at the Selma March, Dies at 104

27 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Amelia Boynton Robinson remembered as fearless, tireless leader of civil rights movement.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. Amelia Boynton Robinson, who was called the matriarch of the voting rights movement — and whose photograph, showing her beaten, gassed and left for dead in the epochal civil rights march known as Bloody Sunday, appeared in newspapers and magazines round the world in 1965 — died on Wednesday in Montgomery, Ala. — A newspaper photo of a woman who was beaten unconscious by law enforcement during a march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, revealed to a wider audience the struggles and violence black people faced while fighting for the right to vote. DuVernay called Boynton Robinson “a freedom fighter every American should know, respect, recognize,” and wrote that she was “the first character I added to my rewrite of SELMA. … You couldn’t tell the story without her.

She was 104. “With deep sadness, we announce that she passed peaceably this morning with family and friends surrounding her at approximately 2:20 a.m. in Noland Hospital of Montgomery in Alabama,” the statement said. She started the story.” Boynton Robinson was portrayed by Lorraine Toussaint in Selma, DuVernay’s historical drama about Martin Luther King Jr. and his crusade for civil rights in 1965. Boynton Robinson, widely considered one of the mothers of the civil rights movement, died in a Montgomery, Alabama, hospital at age 104, her son Bruce Boynton said.

But her work for voting rights and against discrimination began decades earlier, when as a 10-year-old in the early 1920s she helped her mother register voters in Savannah, Ga., her birthplace. Boynton Robinson—who was born in Savannah, Georgia in 1911 and devoted her life’s work to civil rights—co-founded the Dallas County Voters League in 1933 and later became the first black woman to run for Congress in Alabama in 1964. The Los Angeles Times reports she was “surrounded by relatives and friends” before passing early Wednesday morning, around 2:20 a.m. “I have been called rabble-rouser, agitator,” Boynton Robinson said in 1992. “But because of my fighting, I was able to hand to the entire country the right for people to vote.”

Sewell said she’ll carry love and admiration for Boynton Robinson with her and will continue working to honor her life’s work. “As she reminded us in life, there is still much work to be done for this nation to live up to its ideals of equality and justice for all,” Sewell said. Lewis noted that she co-founded a local civic group in the 1930s and held voter registration drives through the 1950s. “I am so glad she lived to see Dr.

The couple’s efforts led to threats but played a major role in bringing civil rights groups to Selma in 1963 to push the registration efforts forward. Sam Boynton died that year of a heart attack. “Sam would often say that if he had to die he wanted to die for something, and that’s the way I felt, too,” Boynton Robinson told the Montgomery Advertiser in a 2011 interview. “I only wish he had lived long enough to see how we finally succeeded.” In doing so, the Boyntons exposed themselves to danger. Tuskegee University officials have said she graduated from the school in 1927 and donated much of her memorabilia from the 1950s and 1960s to the university. King, who was watching from across the street, immediately went to officials of the Justice Department to demand a court injunction against the sheriff. In 1964, a local judge issued a court order forbidding “assembly of three persons or more in a public place” under the sponsorship of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) or 41 named leaders, including Amelia Boynton.

Johnson signed the federal Voting Rights Act into law, an event seen as a direct consequence of the marches. “She was as strong, as hopeful and as indomitable of spirit — as quintessentially American — as I’m sure she was that day 50 years ago,” President Obama said in a statement on Wednesday. “To honor the legacy of an American hero like Amelia Boynton requires only that we follow her example — that all of us fight to protect everyone’s right to vote.” Mrs. State troopers met them at the foot of the bridge. “The trooper leader told us to turn around, but we wouldn’t, and that’s when they came at us from all directions, beating us and covering us with tear gas,” Boynton Robinson recalled in 2011. “I jumped up and saw people all around me on the bridge. Just to hear this brings it all out for me,” Vivian said after learning of Boynton Robinson’s death, which came less than two weeks after the death of another leading civil rights activist Julian Bond. As a child, before the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920 gave women the vote, she traveled with her mother by horse and buggy to pass out leaflets advocating women’s suffrage. She later transferred to the Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University), where she studied under the renowned botanist George Washington Carver and earned a degree in home economics.

Working in Dallas County, Ala., of which Selma is the seat, she gave instruction in food, nutrition and homemaking in rural households throughout the county. Before going to the hospital with a fractured skull, Lewis said, “I don’t see how President Johnson can send troops to Vietnam; I don’t see how he can send troops to the Congo; I don’t see how he can send troops to Africa and can’t send troops to Selma, Alabama.” Sheriff Clark reportedly told his officers not to offer any assistance to the nearly 70 marchers who were injured. She often participated in anniversaries of the Selma-to-Montgomery march, and attended the 50th anniversary commemoration of Bloody Sunday this past March. “My intention is for the United States of America to be known as the United States that has no boundary line when it comes down to color, and that we will all work together in peace and unity in order (that) we can all say, ‘My country ’tis of thee,’” she said prior to the speech. LaRouche served time in prison after being convicted in 1988 on charges including mail fraud and conspiring to defraud the Internal Revenue Service.) For years, until her retirement in 2009, Mrs.

Boynton Robinson also made headlines in 2004 when she lost a multimillion-dollar defamation suit against ABC and the Walt Disney Company over the 1999 television film “Selma, Lord, Selma.” She charged that the film depicted her as an “Aunt Jemima” who sang gospel songs and spoke in a stereotyped dialect. (She had nothing but praise for Ms.

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