Amelia Boynton Robinson: One of the Nation’s Oldest Civil Rights Activists
There are many heroes in the Civil Rights movement, from Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks to Thurgood Marshall and Bobby Kennedy. But one of the most significant figures in the world of Civil Rights history was also one of the oldest. Â
Amelia Boynton Robinson, who died last year at the ripe old age of 104, may not be a household name, but she was nevertheless one of the most important figures in Civil Rights history. If you do not yet know her name and her story, you might want to delve more deeply into recent history with the African American Civil Rights Tour.
In many ways Amelia Boynton Robinson remains one of the most important unsung heroes of the Civil Rights movement. She played a vital role in the movement, yet many people still do not know her name. That may be changing, however, with many schools adding information about her contributions to their coursework about this special time in American history.
The recent release of the movie Selma is also helping to raise the profile of Amelia Boynton Robinson and introduce a new generation of moviegoers to her contributions. In the movie, Amelia Boynton Robinson is portrayed by Lorraine Toussaint, a fine actress in her own right. But the real story of Amelia Boynton Robinson is even more fascinating than the Hollywood version.
The public history of Amelia Boynton Robinson really begins on March 7, 1965, but the preparations for that pivotal day had been in the works for quite some time. March 7, 1965, of course, was the date of the historic march from Selma to Montgomery. It was during that march that some of the classic figures of the Civil Rights movement first made their mark on history, including the recently deceased Amelia Boynton Robinson.
It was during this iconic Civil Rights march, which also included Martin Luther King, Jr. and thousands of ordinary Americans of all races, that Amelia Boynton Robinson, then simply Amelia Boynton, first made her mark by refusing to run away from the police who were encroaching on and threatening the peaceful marchers.
The fact that March 7, 1965 later became known as “Bloody Sunday” should give you some idea of the dangers faced by Amelia Boynton Robinson and her fellow Civil Rights marchers. In fact, the young Amelia Boynton nearly lost her life that day as the police became increasingly violent toward the men and women marching peacefully from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.
The woman Civil Rights historians know as Amelia Boynton Robinson was born Amelia Platts in 1911. Born in Savannah, Georgia, Ms. Platts was born into a politically aware and socially engaged family. In fact, the young Ms. Platts was just nine years old when she helped her mother campaign to give women the right to vote.
Her commitment to social justice only increased with age, and by the time she married Samuel Boynton she had already become a local activist for Civil Rights in Alabama. During those early years, Amelia Boynton Robinson campaigned for the right of African Americans to own property, vote and receive a decent education. Despite frequent setbacks and little initial success, Amelia Boynton Robinson pushed on, attempting to register African Americans to vote and helping to steer them toward a brighter future.
Amelia Boynton Robinson remained dedicated to the cause of Civil Rights and African American equality even after the death of her husband Samuel in 1963. She even ran for Congress as a Democrat, the first African American woman to do so in the state of Alabama. She did not ultimately win the office, but she did manage an impressive showing for a woman of her generation.
Although she had sought a political future, it would ultimately be the front lines where Amelia Boynton Robinson would make her mark. The march from Selma to Montgomery was a turning point in American history, and the advances that followed would not have been possible without the bravery and commitment of men and women like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Amelia Boynton Robinson.
If youâ€™re interested in learning more about Amelia Boynton Robinson and the Civil Rights movement, Sweet Magnolia Tourâ€™s African American Civil Rights Tour will take you on a history lesson with stops including the National Civil Rights Museum and Beale St. Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee. For more information on the African American Civil Rights Tour, give us a call at 800-235-5295.
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