Civil rights activist Amelia Boynton Robinson passed away on Wednesday at the age of 104.
Boynton Robinson participated in the Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965 that contributed to the passage of the Voting Rights Act. During the first march, on what became known as “Bloody Sunday,” Boynton Robinson was among the protesters who were attacked by state troopers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and a photo of her lying beaten and unconscious provoked outrage when it was shared in newspapers around the world. (If you’ve seen Ava DuVernay’s Selma, she was played by Lorraine Toussaint.)
After the Civil Rights Movement, Boynton Robinson became the first black woman to run for Congress in the state of Alabama.
She attended President Obama’s State of the Union address in January and commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Selma marches with him just this past March. After her passing, the President released a statement:
Amelia Boynton Robinson was a dedicated and courageous leader in the fight for civil rights. For most of her 104 years, Amelia committed herself to a simple, American principle: that everybody deserves the right to vote. Fifty years ago, she marched in Selma, and the quiet heroism of those marchers helped pave the way for the landmark Voting Rights Act. But for the rest of her life, she kept marching – to make sure the law was upheld, and barriers to the polls torn down. And America is so fortunate she did. To honor the legacy of an American hero like Amelia Boynton requires only that we follow her example – that all of us fight to protect everyone’s right to vote. Earlier this year, in Selma, Michelle and I had the honor to walk with Amelia and other foot soldiers of the Civil Rights Movement. She was as strong, as hopeful, and as indomitable of spirit – as quintessentially American – as I’m sure she was that day 50 years ago. And we offer our thoughts, our prayers, and our enduring gratitude to everyone who loved her.
Our feelings exactly.