Terri Sewell

Honoring Amelia Boynton Robinson - February 11, 2014

Terri Sewell
February 11, 2014— Washington DC
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Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise today to continue my commitment to honoring influential African Americans from Alabama during this Black History Month. This week, we honor the heroines of the movement for civil rights and voting rights. These courageous women had tremendous roles in our nation's fight for justice and equality, and I am honored to share their stories. Today I honor the tremendous life and legacy of Mrs. Amelia Boynton Robinson.

Amelia was a key figure in the voting rights movement in Selma, Alabama, and she is often remembered for her historic role in Bloody Sunday, on that solemn day on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. At 102 years old, she is an American treasure whose story is a testament to her commitment to serving as a … of change. Amelia Boynton Robinson was born August 18, 1911 in Savannah Georgia. Her mother was an activist during the women's suffrage movement. After the passage of the 19th amendment, she and her mother would distribute voter registration information to women from the family's horse and buggy in the 1920s.

Her mother's tireless efforts to secure the right to the right to vote for women, would have a lasting impact on Amelia. It also paved the way for the young activist to claim her own place in history. Fueled by the same passion, Amelia began her own service to mankind when she and her husband, Samuel Boynton, fought for voting rights and property ownership for blacks in the poorest rural counties of Alabama. She was later named the only female lieutenant to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement. In this role, Amelia would travel alongside Dr. King and often appear in his stead for various events and gatherings during the movement.

Amelia is best known for being on the front lines during Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama. During the protest, she was gassed, beaten, and left for dead at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Despite the violent attacks, this heroine was committed to staying the course. Her direct involved in the movement to lead the passage- led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Amelia was such a valued part of this process, that some of the contents of the bill were drafted in her kitchen table in Selma.

On May 5, 1964, Amelia Boynton broke yet another barrier when she became the first woman in the state of Alabama to run for Congress. She … earned 10.7% of the vote during a time when very few blacks were registered voters. Her historic run further solidified her impact on the movement for Human Rights … civil rights in Alabama. When this extraordinary woman wasn't contributing her time to the causes of her generation, she worked as an educator, a home agent with the Department of Agriculture, an insurance agent, an income tax preparer prior, as well as a real estate agent. She attended Georgia State Industrial School which is now known as Savannah State University and Tuskegee Northern which is also known as Tuskegee University.

I am certain that I would not stand before you today as Alabama's first black congresswoman without the tremendous contributions of this amazing woman. It is indeed humbling to experience this and pay honor and tribute to the first African-American woman to pursue this office in my great state. Her compelling story is one that reminds us of the undeniable power of courage. She refused to be silent and even risked her life to blaze trails for future generations, and at a 102 years old, Amelia is still alive and still with us today and she is still dispensing her wisdom.

As we celebrate Black History Month, and the notable contributions of African-Americans to this country, I ask my colleagues to join me in saluting Mrs. Amelia Boynton Robinson, an Alabama gem, and an American treasure. I go back my time.