Amelia Boynton Robinson: the ‘indomitable spirit’ that carried a movement

27 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Amelia Boynton Robinson noted as fearless, tireless leader.

Amelia Boynton Robinson, a pivotal figure in the struggle for civil rights in Selma, Ala., whose picture, battered and left unconscious by police on the Edmund Pettus Bridge became an iconic image that publicized the often violent struggle to enfranchise black voters, died Wednesday in a Montgomery Alabama Hospital. Selma became a flashpoint in the civil rights movement in large part because of Boynton Robinson’s efforts to bring Martin Luther King Jr. to the city and make it a battleground in the fight to grant blacks the right to vote.

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. Boynton Robinson, known as the matriarch of the Voting Rights Act, was one of the organizers of the first march from Selma to Alabama’s capital, Montgomery which lives in infamy as the day known as “Bloody Sunday.” During the march on March 7, 1965 state troopers teargassed, clubbed, and whipped the 600 non-violent protesters when they attempted to cross the bridge. 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. Fifty years after ‘‘Bloody Sunday,’’ Barack Obama, the first black US president, held her hand as she crossed the bridge in a wheelchair during a commemoration. ‘‘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,’’ Obama said 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.’’ In January, Ms. As a young girl she handed out leaflets advocating for the right for women to vote before the passage of the 19th amendment which granted women suffrage. “The truth of it is that was her entire life.

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. Boynton Robinson was charged with “criminal provocation” and was arrested by the county’s notoriously race-baiting sheriff, Jim Clark. “When she refused to leave the sidewalk in front of the courthouse, Sheriff Clark grabbed her by the back of her collar and pushed her roughly and swiftly for half a block into a patrol car,” the New York Times reported. 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.

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. 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. Boynton Robinson, he said, “Let the buzzards eat her.” Throughout the country, people were appalled at the graphic images of police violence on the day that became known as Bloody Sunday.

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. Boynton Robinson settled in Tuskegee in 1976 and later became a vice president of the Schiller Institute, an organization affiliated with political extremist and fringe presidential candidate Lyndon R.

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