Amelia Boynton

Amelia Boynton Robinson, one of the chief architects of the historic Selma to Montgomery march and the push for voting rights in the South, passed away early Wednesday. She was 104.

Boynton Robinson spent her life advocating for Black Americans. In 1933, she co-founded the Dallas County Voters League and registered African-American voters for nearly two decades despite threats, attacks, and challenges at the polls that kept Black voters from exercising their rights.

In 1964, Boynton Robinson became the first Black woman (and first woman, period) in Alabama to run on the Democratic ticket for a seat in Congress. Though she did not win, she continued to engage with the political system for the remainder of her life.

Boynton Robinson’s activism was instrumental to the passage of Voting Rights Act of 1965. Along with inviting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Selma to coordinate with local groups, she worked with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and opened her home to help plan the Selma to Montgomery march. She also was not afraid to put her body on the line, and was nearly killed on “Bloody Sunday.”

“Having been a leader through the years, and having laid the foundation for the civil rights movement from 1930 until 1964, I felt as though all through that time it was my duty to lead,” Boynton Robinson told an interviewer for the documentary Eyes on the Prize. “I had no feeling of what was going to happen, but I knew one thing, that I was determined to go all the way.”


Amelia Boynton Robinson with President Lyndon, 1965

When President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law, Boynton Robinson was present to see her lifelong dream realized.

“The truth of it is that was her entire life. That’s what she was completely taken with,” Bruce Boynton said of his mother’s commitment to the Civil Rights Movement. “She was a loving person, very supportive — but civil rights was her life.”

In 1990, Boynton Robinson received the Martin Luther King Jr. Medal of Freedom, and this past January, she was President Obama’s special guest at the State of the Union Address. Last year, Boynton Robinson’s contributions to the movement were portrayed in the Oscar-nominated film Selma. 

Amelia Boynton Robinson was an American hero, and we are blessed she dedicated her life to bettering our nation.

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  • Noirluv45

    God rest her wonderful soul. She lived a long, productive, and commendable life.

  • Brad

    One of Tuskegee University’s oldest and most beloved alumni.

    Robinson, Class of 1927, was a familiar and inspiring face in the university community. She returned often for campus events and in 2011, Robinson was acknowledged for her continuous service and dedication by the university when she was given the Booker T. Washington Legacy Award. Her last appearance on campus was in May, where she was a special guest for the Spring Commencement Exercises.

    She was generous with her time during her campus visits and often spoke to others about the love she carried for her alma mater. During an awards event in 2012, Robinson reminisced about her early days as a student at Tuskegee and her reason for choosing the university over others. Rather than fall into her sister’s footsteps at another school, Robinson said she was committed to creating her own reputation and making her mark on the world.

    “Thank God for Tuskegee. Thank God for a God who’s blessed me,” she said.

  • No words can describe the great contributions that Sister Amelia Boynton has done for society. Her work will forever be remembered. During this time, many of our elders are passing away. We are in the Joshua Generation. Our elders and our ancestors would want us to carry on the torch that many heroes have done for years and centuries. She fought for voting rights and human rights in the South and throughout the world. Her righteous work in Selma helped to cause the Voting Rights Act to be signed into law by 1965. She in her DCVL organization sacrificed for the cause of freedom just like SNCC and the SCLC worked in Selma too. Police brutality (as shown in Bloody Sunday) and violence could never stop her. Racism didn’t stop her and she was blessed. During this generation, we should continue to fight for our rights since Voter ID laws (including a recent Supreme Court decision gutting sections of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act) violate the principles of the Voting Rights Act.

    So, we salute her service for humanity. We honor her memory. We also acknowledge the unsung heroes of Selma and in other places that fought for human justice too. The civil rights movement was a strong movement filled with courage, strength, and most importantly love. We love her as she loved us. One thing that she would want us to do is to continue working in our communities, to continue to support our families, and to work ceaselessly to advance the dignity of humanity. We want health care, housing, and a clean environment available for humanity. Her legacy is a glorious one and crowns upon crowns are upon her head now as the Most High is certainly happy about her work. Her principle of believing in justice and freedom for all is a principle that we will forever cherish in our hearts and in our souls.

    RIP Sister Amelia Boynton Robinson.

  • Mary Burrell

    A beautiful and full life may she rest in peace.

  • binks

    What an impact and legacy she left behind. May Amelia Boynton rest in peace and may her legacy continues to live on and make others pick up her torch!