Amelia Boynton Robinson

Lived:August 18, 1911—August 26, 2015 (aged 104)

Amelia Boynton Robinson was a fierce civil rights activist for African Americans and is well known for being a leader in the 1965 civil rights march in Selma, Alabama.

Amelia Boynton Robinson was born on August 18, 1911, in Savannah, Georgia, one of ten children in a working-class family. As a child, Robinson accompanied her mother to increase voter participation in their community and accompany women to the polls.

After graduating from Tuskegee University, she married Samuel William Boynton and, together, they started a series of small businesses helping African Americans and got involved in voting rights activism in Selma, Alabama. After his death in 1963, she carried on their activism, becoming the first Black woman to run for Congress in Alabama in 1964.

In 1965, she asked Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to come to Selma and help agitate for voting rights. The protesters set up headquarters in her home and marched to the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where she was brutally beaten and left in the street. This event became known as “Bloody Sunday” and drew national attention to the Civil Rights Movement.

Robinson worked as a teacher in Georgia for many years and then as a demonstration agent with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Selma, Alabama. She was awarded the Martin Luther King Jr. Medal of Freedom in 1990. She also accompanied President Barack Obama and Congressman John Lewis to Selma to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Selma march.

Amelia Boynton Robinson passed away at the age of 104 on August 26, 2015.

“Amelia Boynton Robinson (U.S. National Park Service).” National Parks Service. U.S. Department of the Interior, March 28, 2019.