Rep. John Lewis Remembers the Legacy of Voting Rights Crusader Amelia Boynton
I was sad to learn that Mrs. Amelia Boynton succumbed to her illness early this morning in Montgomery, Alabama. This nation has lost a crusader, a warrior, and a fighter for justice. She was one of the most dependable, reliable leaders to stand up for the right to vote in Selma, Alabama and in the American South.
Mrs. Boynton was involved in the struggle for voting rights long before I was even born. She was a co-founder of the Dallas County Voters League in 1933 and held voter registration drives throughout the darkest, most dangerous decades of segregation in Alabama, from the 1930s through the 1950s. In 1964, she became the first African American woman to run as a Democratic candidate for Congress in Alabama.
Amelia Boynton was fearless in the face of brutal injustice, willing to risk all she had on the frontlines of change in America. She was arrested, shoved and pushed in front of the Dallas County courthouse by sheriff Jim Clark. She was knocked down on Bloody Sunday on March 7, 1965, on the Edmund Pettus Bridge as 600 of us attempted to march to Montgomery to dramatize the dire need for voting rights legislation in this country.
It was a great pleasure to get to know her and to work with her in our grassroots effort to transform America. Amelia Boynton never got weary. She never gave up. She never gave in. She kept the faith. She kept on defending the need to respect human dignity in America. Her work and her accomplishments were a source of inspiration for so many people in the South and around our country.
I am so glad she lived to see Dr. King lead a march from Selma to Montgomery, that she lived to see the Voting Rights Act signed into law, that she lived to see the amazing transformation our work gave rise to in America. I am so glad she lived to see President Obama nominated and elected and that she was on the bridge with two Presidents and two First Ladies this year to mark the 50th anniversary of the march.
At over 104 years old, Mrs. Amelia Boynton lived a well spent life helping to make Alabama and our nation a better place. I mourn with her son Bruce Boynton, all of her family members, and all of her friends. She will be deeply missed, but her legacy and her contribution will be remembered always.