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EIRNS/Randy Kim
On the Historic Edmund Pettus Bridge LaRouche Youth Movement members, Abdul-aliy Muhammad (left) and Paul Mourino carry a banner in the lead of the reenactment of the 1965 march.

LYM Joins
Amelia Boynton Robinson;
40th Anniversary of Selma-Montgomery March

by Bonnie James

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LYM Joins Amelia Boynton Robinson;
40th Anniversary Selma-Montgomery March

by Bonnie James

March 8 (EIRNS)—On the 40th anniversary of the historic Selma-to-Montgomery march for voting rights, four members of the LaRouche Youth Movement—Michelle Lerner, Abdul-Aliy Muhammad, Randy Kim, and Paul Mourino—were invited by the one of the great heroines of the civil rights movement, Amelia Boynton Robinson, to participate in the commemorations, which spanned several days, culminating in the re-enactment of the famous march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
EIRNS/Randy Kim
Amelia Boynton Robinson being interviewed about her participation in the 1965 march.

As the members of the LYM described it, their goal was to intervene into these events, to elevate them from a simple nostalgia for the heyday of the movement, i.e., from “Hey, this is what we did,” to “Where do we go from here?” and “How do we do it?”

The LYM team arrived in Selma on March 3, a day which was to be dedicated to the honor of Mrs. Robison's deceased husband, Samuel W. Boynton, her long-time partner in the struggle for voting rights for African Americans. The LYM organizers joined Mrs. Robinson for a TV interview, in she which recounted her experiences in the fight to register blacks in the South to vote, and described the process by which she met the LaRouche movement in New York City many years ago. Since then, she has become a leading spokesman for, and Vice Chairman of the Schiller Institute, founded by Lyndon and Helga LaRouche.

That evening, the group proceeded to the historic Tabernacle Baptist Church, where the first voting rights meeting in Selma took place, for a tribute to S.W. Boynton. The event, which was attended by 400 people, including a number of elected officials and civil rights veterans, turned into an impromptu book-signing by Mrs. Robinson, of her autobiography, “Bridge Across Jordan,” recently re-released by the Schiller Institute. Among the speakers were Mrs. Robinson, her son, Bruce Boynton, Dr. Joseph Lowery, Dr. F.D. Reese, and Dr. Charles Steele. Bruce Boynton recalled the courage of his parents, Amelia and Samuel, in organizing the impoverished black population to register to vote, despite threats against their lives, in a South where innocent blacks were still frequently lynched.

Following the ceremony, the LYM team distributed many copies of this newspaper and EIR, the LaRouche PAC pamphlet “Bush's Social Security Fraud,” and other literature.

- A Challenge to Congress -

The following morning the LaRouche Youth attended the “Invisible Giants Conference,” at Selma High School, where California Democrat Rep. Maxine Waters spoke. Waters said that many members of Congress would make the pilgrimage to Selma to march and sing, and then would go back to Washington and vote for the austerity budget submitted to Congress by the Bush Administration. She challenged the students to organize a rally aimed at making sure that members of Congress participating in the Selma commemoration take up the fight against Bush.

Among the events later that day, was a reception at the National Voting Rights Museum, where Amelia and Samuel Boynton were honored. Mrs. Robinson gave a speech which was warmly received, after which the LYM organizers engaged in discussion Mrs. Robinson and others about the speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King. LYM member Michelle Lerner noted that you could trace King's own development through his speeches, and that at the end, it was evident that he was moving more toward the concept of economic justice for all people.

At every event, Amelia was greeted with great reverence and respect, as the Mother of the Civil Rights Movement, and given a standing ovation.

- Awards Dinner -

The LaRouche Youth were the special guests of Amelia Robinson at a black-tie event, the “Freedom Flame Awards” on Saturday night, where, among the dignitaries, were civil rights veterans JL Chestnut, C.T. Vivian, Harry Belafonte, and other celebrities, including Jesse Jackson, Rep. Cynthia McKinney, and Rep. Maxine Waters. Among those remembered were Classical singers Marion Anderson and Paul Robeson.

The last speech of the evening was given by Harry Belafonte, who had served in World War II; his description of the shift in the population that he found when he came back after the war, was similar to observations often made by Lyndon LaRouche. Belafonte also gave a spirited defense of his popular “calypso” song, “Day-O,” which he explained was not some trivial pop song, but rather, one passed down from his mother and grandmother, a slave Spiritual from Jamaica and Cuba, about surviving on the sugar plantations. He also noted that his friend, Nelson Mandela, used this song in prison to communicate with other inmates, because the guards did not realize that it was a metaphor.

Belafonte also talked about his role in the civil rights movement and the many times he marched with King. He said that many of the artists of his time, such as singer Tony Bennett and others, were at the march with King in his time. The artists of that day were held to a higher standard than today's performers, he said, who have no respect for anything except making money.

EIRNS/Randy Kim
Amelia Boynton Robinson addressing one of the many meetings honoring her contributions to to the civil rights movement. Seated, (far left): Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), (second from left) Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA).

There was a sense in the audience of the movement coming back to life, as especially Belafonte, Amelia Robinson, and Dr. Lowery, one of the founders of SCLC, attempted to inspire people out of their smallness. Most of the other speeches, though, were oriented towards nostalgia.The LYM organizers were busy talking with members of Congress, and arranging future collaboration. Muhammad and Mourino introduced themselves to Belafonte, described the work of the LaRouche Youth Movement, and asked for his help with their work in Classical drama. Belafonte responded that he had some of LaRouche's literature and was “working through it,” adding that he had seen our movement in Berlin, Germany.

- The March -

The culmination of the ceremonies took place on Sunday with a re-enactment of the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The LYM described it this way: We had composed two signs for the march. One was in collaboration with Maxine Waters, based on her polemic that the Congressmen are just going to get their “stamp of approval” for taking part in the Selma commemorations, and then go back to Washington and continue doing the same thing. This sign was: “Say 'no' to Bush's fascist budget cuts; save HUD, CDBG; Save Section 8.” These are references to departments or programs which will be cut under Bush's budget ax. The second sign was, “LaRouche PAC: Lift every voice for economic justice. Join LaRouche to fight Social Security privatization.” This one was our design, and both really pricked the conscience of the marchers.

As the march began to form up, the NOI, groups of Senators, including Republican Majority Leader Bill Frist, and others locked arms, like in the days of Dr. King, and walked from the church, toward Main Street, across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. We positioned ourselves right in front of the Senators and marched with our signs held high. We began singing “Ain't gonna let Bill Frist turn us around.” We got a lot of support for this.

Through the course of events, people got a clear sense of what LaRouche represents, and responded positively to our organizing.

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