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Happy 100th Birthday, Dear Amelia!

by Helga Zepp-LaRouche

August 2011

Helga Zepp-LaRouche commemorates the 100-year celebration of Amelia Boynton Robinson, in this article translated from German, which appears in the coming issue of EIR magazine.

Amelia Boynton Robinson (at podium), and Helga Zepp-LaRouche at the Labor Day, 2003 Schiller Institute Conference near Washington, D.C.

What a splendid, rich, and good life the grand old lady of the American civil rights movement can look back on! On Aug. 18, Amelia Boynton Robinson will be 100 years old. She is irrefutable proof that people who dedicate their lives to great ideas and are driven by a selfless love for humanity never really become “old,” but their creativity is constantly developing and can always conquer new frontiers!

Amelia was Martin Luther King’s most important collaborator in their common fight; she was fighting back in the 1930s for the civil rights of the African-American population, whose situation in the southern American states was very often akin to slavery. It was she who invited Dr. King to Selma, and she kept the spirit of the movement alive after his death.

Amelia collaborated for more than 28 years with the international Schiller Institute and the Civil Rights Solidarity Movement (BueSo), which she considers a movement that pursues the same principal goals as the movement associated with Dr. King. During this time, as a representative of the Schiller Institute, she visited many countries, including Sweden, Denmark, France, Italy, Germany, India, Iran, Jordan, Egypt, as well as countless cities in the United States. Her message was always one of love, reconciliation, and dialogue of cultures.

Amelia, who is like a mother to me, and to whom I am like a daughter, is, among all the many wonderful things which can be said about her, above all, a poet. In her poems she addresses the soul with surprising images and metaphors; she finds a way to immediately make her readers and listeners feel uplifted, and they are effectively, in a playful way, reminded of the better humanity within themselves. The drama she wrote, “Through the Years,” is also very moving; it is formed around many spirituals that illustrate the freedom struggle of the slaves, through the fate of a family, through whose example the total inhumanity of the slaveholders and plantation owners of the South becomes apparent.

Wherever she comes in contact with people — and over the years she has given and participated in probably many thousands of meetings, speeches, conferences, seminars, trips, visits, and so forth — people are always touched by this extraordinary woman. Amelia is, in the deepest sense, what Friedrich Schiller calls a beautiful soul, one which does not act through what it does, but through what it is. One of her greatest merits is surely her wonderful effect on children and youth, for whom the key to their inner fulfillment can often be to come to know a great historical figure, such as Amelia, who, in her personality and vibrancy, represents the idea of freedom and of the courage to stand up for ideals personally and directly.

Purchase Amelia's autobiography, Bridge Across Jordan

In March and April 1990, Amelia travelled in the eastern part of Germany, which was being incorporated into the new federal state. She visited Cottbus, Zwickau, Chemnitz, Sondershausen, Worbis, Heiligenstadt, Criwitz, and several other cities, and it was an astounding experience to see how universal ideas, such as the fight for civil and human rights, shifted in space and time, still work according to the same eternal laws. Amelia immediately found her way into people’s hearts, and her message — never to become a slave because of fear — was very important in this specific historical situation. “Freedom never comes without a price; it must always be won anew,” was her admonition, which many people recall who did not experience all the aspects of reunification as an improvement in their own lives.

I know from many discussions, that the fate of the youth generation lies especially close to Amelia’s heart, a generation which today is confronted with many existential challenges. I know that we could give no more beautiful birthday gift than to take up the sacred responsibility to use all our strength to help create a world where Amelia’s dream of freedom for all mankind comes nigh.

We love you, Amelia.