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Amelia Boynton

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Amelia Boynton

Amelia Boynton Robinson
Born August 18, 1911
Georgia, United States
Occupation Civil Rights activist

Amelia Platts Boynton Robinson (born August 18, 1911) was a leader of the American Civil Rights Movement in Selma, Alabama[1] and a key figure in the 1965 march that became known as Bloody Sunday. In 1984 she became founding vice-president of the Schiller Institute affiliated with Lyndon LaRouche. She was awarded the Martin Luther King, Jr. Freedom Medal in 1990.[2]

Biography

Civil rights movement

Born in Savannah, Georgia August 18, 1911,Robinson became involved as a girl in campaigning for women's suffrage. She and her husband, Bill Boynton, knew George Washington Carver at the Tuskegee Institute.[3] In 1934 she registered to vote, a privilege which later became a right. A few years later she wrote a play, Through the Years, which told the story of creation of Spiritual music, in order to help fund a community center in Selma, Alabama. The Boyntons met Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King in 1954 at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, where King was the pastor.[3]

In 1963, Bill Boynton died and Amelia's home and office in Selma became the center of Selma's civil rights battles and was used by Martin Luther King, James Bevel, and others to plan demonstrations for civil and voting rights.[2] While Selma had a population that was 50 percent black, only 1 percent of the town's African American residents were registered as voters.[4] To protest this state of affairs, Robinson helped organize a march to Montgomery, initiated by James Bevel, which took place on March 7, 1965. Led by John Lewis, Hosea Williams and Bob Mants, and including Rosa Parks and others among the marchers,[4] the event became known as Bloody Sunday when local and state police stopped the march and beat demonstrators as they were crossing Edmund Pettus Bridge.[4] Robinson herself was beaten unconscious; a picture of her lying on Edmund Pettus Bridge went around the world.[5] Another short march led by Martin Luther King took place two days later, and a third march reached Montgomery on March 24.[4] The horror of Bloody Sunday contributed to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965; Robinson was a guest of honor when President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law.[6]

Robinson ran for the Congress from Alabama in 1964, the first female African-American ever to do so and the first female of any race to run for the ticket of the Democratic Party in Alabama. She received 10% of the vote.[6]

Robinson was awarded the Martin Luther King, Jr. Freedom Medal in 1990.[2] Bridge Across Jordan includes tributes from friends and colleagues, including Coretta Scott King and Andrew Young. Mrs. King wrote:

In Bridge Across Jordan, Amelia Boynton Robinson has crafted an inspiring, eloquent memoir of her more than five decades on the front lines of the struggle for racial equality and social justice. This work is an important contribution to the history of the black freedom struggle, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone who cares about human rights in America.[7]

Later life

Robinson met Lyndon LaRouche in 1983 and a year later served as a founding board member of the LaRouche-affiliated Schiller Institute. In 1992, proclamations of "Amelia Boynton Robinson Day" in Seattle and Washington State were rescinded when officials learnt of Robinson's involvement in the Schiller Institute, the first time such an action had been taken.[2] A spokesman for the Seattle mayor said, "It was a very difficult decision. The mayor has a lot of respect for her courage during the civil rights movement of the 1960s, but we don't feel her handlers gave us full and accurate information about her current activities.[2] Officials said they had not been aware of the Schiller Institute's affiliation with LaRouche.[2] Robinson commented in an interview, "I have had worse things than that done to me when I was fighting for people's right to vote. I have been called rabble-rouser, agitator. But because of my fighting, I was able to hand to the entire country the right for people to vote. To give me an honor and rescind it because I am fighting for justice and for a man who has an economic program that will help the poor and the oppressed ... if that is the reason, then I think they did more good than they did harm."[2] According to the Lewiston Morning Tribune, she stated that "people get the wrong image of LaRouche because government leaders are spreading lies about him."[2]

In 2004 Robinson sued The Walt Disney Company for defamation, asking for between $1 and $10 million in damages. She contended that the 1999 TV movie Selma, Lord, Selma, a docudrama based on a book written by two young participants in Bloody Sunday, falsely depicted her as a stereotypical "black Mammy" whose key role was to "make religious utterances and to participate in singing spirituals and protest songs." She lost the case.[8]

During the fall of 2007, Robinson toured Sweden, Denmark, Germany, France and Italy in her capacity as Vice President of the Schiller Institute, and spoke with European youth about her support for LaRouche, Martin Luther King, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, as well as the continuing problem of racism in the United States, which she said was illustrated by the recent events in Jena, Louisiana.[9][10]

In 2010, plans were publicized for her former house on Lapsley Street, Selma, to be restored; the Atlanta-based Gateway Educational Foundation estimated it would spend $700,000 on the project, which would include a statue of Sam and Amelia Boynton.[6] In February 2011, aged 99, she returned to her hometown Savannah, to address students at Savannah State University.[11][12]

Bibliography

See also

References

External links

  • Amelia Boynton Robinson's oral history video excerpts at The National Visionary Leadership Project
  • Encyclopedia of Alabama

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