Amelia Boynton Robinson
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Amelia Boynton Robinson was a Civil Rights activist whose main focus was Black Voter Rights. Robinson was dedicated and continued to fight for what she knew was right.
Amelia Boynton Robinson was born Amelia Platts in Savannah Georgia, on August 18, 1911. She was one of ten children to her parents, Anna and George Platts, who were both of Black, Cherokee Indian, and German descent. At just ten years old, Boynton was already beginning her lifelong career in voter rights activism, as she and her mother began to campaign for women's right to vote.
In 1923, Boynton attended Georgia State College, which is now known as Savannah State University. Two years into her education there, she transferred to Tuskegee Institute which is now known as Tuskegee University. In 1927, Boynton graduated from Tuskegee Institute with her degree in home economics. After graduating with her degree, she continued her education at Tennessee State University, Virginia State University, and Temple University.
Jobs and Career
After finishing her education, Boynton worked as a teacher of home economics in Georgia for a time, before going to Dallas County to work as a home demonstration agent for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Here, she met and fell in love with Samuel Boynton, who shared Boynton's interest in improving the lives of African Americans. In 1936, the two married and had two sons. In 1933, Boynton co-founded the Dallas County Voters' League. Starting in the 1930s, and through to the '50s, she held voter registration drives for African Americans in Selma, Alabama. This was extremely significant because though African Americans had the right to vote during this time, they were suppressed. Many efforts were being made across the country to make it harder for Black people to gain access to voting polls and registration, and these efforts are referred to as Voter Suppression.
In 1963, Boynton's husband Samuel passed away. This did not stop Boynton from staying committed to her goals. On February 29, 1964, Boynton ran for a seat in Congress from Alabama as a Democratic candidate. Though she did not win, she made history by becoming the first Black woman to run for a seat in Congress from Alabama. This same year, after teaming up with Dr. Martin Luther King, Boynton invited Dr. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to help promote suffrage for African Americans in Selma. Dr. King excitedly accepted the offer, and they traveled to Boynton's home where they planned the Selma to Montgomery March of March 7, 1965. Around 600 protesters came to participate in the Selma to Montgomery March. As they marched on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, a bridge that crosses over the Alabama River, the protesters were attacked by policemen. They came at them with tear gas and weapons. Boynton was beaten unconscious, and this day became known as Bloody Sunday as so many were badly beaten and injured. Though this was a tragedy, their efforts were not in vain. A picture published in a newspaper of Boynton lying on the bridge published in a newspaper, bloody and unconscious gained national attention. On August 6, 1965, Bloody Sunday lead President Lyndon B. Johnson to sign the Voter Rights Act, with Boynton as the guest of honor. In 1969, she remarried to a musician named Bob W. Billups, who later died unexpectedly in a boat accident. Boynton later remarried yet again, to a former classmate from Tuskegee University, James Robinson. After the wedding, they moved back to Tuskegee, and in 1988, James Robinson died. After the death of her third husband, Boynton Robinson served as the vice-chair at Schiller Institute, still continuing to pursue her passion and commitment to helping Black people gain equal rights across the country.
Legacy and Awards
In 1990, Boynton Robinson was awarded the Martin Luther King Jr. Medal of Freedom, and in 2014, the historical drama film Selma was released, sharing Boynton Robinson's story with the world. In March of 2015, on the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery March, Boynton Robinson marched across the Edmund Pettus bridge alongside President Barack Obama and Congressman John Lewis. On August 26, 2015, at the age of 104, Boynton Robinson passed away after suffering multiple strokes.
Boynton Robinson was extremely brave and dedicated, and she sparked change in so many different ways. She has helped many Black people get the ability to vote, and she is the reason for many great landmark accomplishments in the U.S.