March 23rd: Amelia Boynton

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Amelia Boynton was an important figure from the civil rights movement.  After graduating from college, Boynton became a teacher and later an agent with the Department of Agriculture in Selma, Alabama.  She was passionate about advancing the voting rights of African Americans so in 1933 she co-founded a group that helped black Americans pass voting literacy tests, and throughout the 1930s until the 1950s, she and her husband held multiple voting drives in Selma, Alabama.  In 1964, during the civil rights movement, Boynton became the first black woman to run for congress in Alabama, and the first woman in Alabama to run as a democrat.  She unfortunately lost, but she did win over 10% of the vote.  She also worked closely with Dr. Martin Luther King.  Boynton invited Dr. King to Selma to organize the March from Selma to Montgomery, and her home was used as a headquarters for the planning.  On “Bloody Sunday” (March 7th, 1965), the day of the march Boynton helped plan, state troopers sent 17 protesters to the hospital with injuries.  Boynton was one of those protesters.  A photo of her after she was left unconscious on the ground circulated through newspapers, catching people’s attention and sparking a national outrage.  A few months later, President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, and Boynton attended as a guest of honor.  Boynton remained an advocate for human rights well into her 90s,  she was an active member of a civil and human rights organization until 2009.  In 2015, when she was 103 years old, she was wheeled next to President Obama while they walked over the Edmund Pettus Bridge for the 50th anniversary of the march she helped organize.  Amelia Boynton passed away in August of 2015 after a series of strokes when she was 104 years old.

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