US civil rights activist Amelia Boynton Robinson dies aged 104

By the time the civil rights movement gained steam in the 1960s, the Boyntons were leading the efforts in Selma. She died early Wednesday, relatives said.


Amelia Boynton Robinson, a civil rights activist who almost died while helping lead the 1965 Selma march on “Bloody Sunday”, championed voting rights for blacks and was the first black woman to run for Congress in Alabama, has died. “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”, Obama said in the statement.

A 1927 graduate of Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University), Boynton Robinson worked as an agent in Dallas County for the United States Department of Agriculture. She moved to Alabama in the 1930s with her husband, Samuel Boynton. She had also been slated to receive a Phoenix Award from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation on September 19 in Washington, D.C.

She had suffered a stroke earlier this year and been hospitalized at Nolan Hospital in Montgomery since July 10. Her role in the event was recaptured in the movie “Selma”, where she was portrayed by actress Lorraine Toussaint. Sam Boynton died that year of a heart attack.

I had the good fortune to meet her last December when I was invited to watch “Selma” with her at her home. “I only wish he had lived long enough to see how we finally succeeded”. Dallas County Sheriff Jim Clark entered one civil rights meeting with armed deputies while a mob outside broke the windshields of cars parked outside.

Boynton Robinson pressed on with her work, coordinating with civil rights groups working on the campaign. In 1964 she became both the first African-American woman and the first female Democratic candidate to run for a seat in Congress from Alabama.

This past January, Boynton Robinson attended the State of the Union address, wheeled in by fellow “Bloody Sunday” marcher Rep. John Lewis (D, Georgia).

She turned 104 on August 18, though some in her closest circles insist she was 110. State troopers teargased and clubbed the marchers as they tried to cross the bridge.

“It’s where everybody came to eat”, Bowser said. One of them shot tear gas all over me. “Some looked like they were dead”. A newspaper photo showing Boynton Robinson, who had been beaten unconscious, drew wide attention to the movement. “She was calm. She took it in stride”.

Boynton’s house at 1315 Lapsley Street in Selma in 1965 served as a headquarters of the Selma march planning, with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders convening there.

Sewell said in January that Boynton refused to be intimidated and ultimately saw the impact of her work when the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed into law.

Boynton Robinson remained active in her later years, serving as vice-chair of the Schiller Institute and continuing to travel into her late 90s.

I am saddened to hear about the death of Amelia Boynton Robinson.


Fifty years later, Barack Obama, the first black US president, pushed her across the span in a wheelchair during anniversary commemorations in March.

Civil rights activist Amelia Boynton Robinson, icon of 'Bloody Sunday' march