Amelia Boynton Robinson was a trailblazing civil rights activist who devoted her life to fighting for voting rights, racial equality, and social justice. Her tireless efforts were crucial in the historic struggle for civil rights in the United States, particularly in the state of Alabama, where she lived and worked for many years.
Boynton Robinson was born Amelia Platts on August 18, 1911, in Savannah, Georgia. Her family moved to rural Alabama when she was a child, and she grew up on a farm outside of Selma. As a young woman, she attended Georgia State College for Women and then Tennessee State University, where she earned a degree in home economics.
After college, Boynton Robinson returned to Selma, where she became involved in civil rights activism in the 1930s. She joined the local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and worked to organize voter registration drives and other campaigns to challenge segregation and discrimination.
In the early 1960s, Boynton Robinson co-founded the Dallas County Voters League, which was dedicated to registering black voters in Selma and the surrounding areas. The group faced significant opposition from white officials and vigilantes, who used intimidation and violence to discourage black voters from registering and participating in elections.
Boynton Robinson was also involved in the Selma to Montgomery marches, which were organized in 1965 to protest the lack of voting rights for black Americans in the South. On March 7, 1965, she joined hundreds of other marchers in crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, only to be met by Alabama state troopers armed with tear gas and clubs. The violence that erupted that day, which came to be known as “Bloody Sunday,” was widely condemned and drew national attention to the issue of voting rights in the South.
Despite the violence, Boynton Robinson continued to participate in the civil rights movement and played a key role in organizing subsequent marches from Selma to Montgomery. These efforts helped to build public support for the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson and prohibited discrimination in voting practices.
In addition to her work as an activist, Boynton Robinson was involved in politics and ran for office several times. In 1964, she became the first black woman to run for a seat in the Alabama state legislature. In 1966, she ran for Congress as a Democrat but was unsuccessful.
Throughout her life, Boynton Robinson remained committed to the struggle for civil rights and social justice. She continued to work as an activist and community organizer well into her later years and was widely respected and admired for her courage and dedication. In recognition of her contributions, she received numerous honors and awards, including the Martin Luther King Jr. Medal of Freedom in 1990 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2014.
Amelia Boynton Robinson passed away on August 26, 2015, at the age of 104. Her legacy as a pioneering civil rights activist and leader continues to inspire and influence generations of Americans.