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Dialogue of Cultures

Amelia Boynton Robinson Brings
ML King's Dream To Italy;

Calls on Europeans to Help
Stop the Iraq War

by Liliana Gorini and Paolo Raimondi
October 6, 2002

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In Milan and Rome, she was received as a head of state, in Milan by the President of the Region Lombardy (corresponding to a US Governor of a state) and in Rome by the Human Rights Committee of the Italian Senate. And that's what she really deserves: Mrs. Amelia Boynton Robinson, 91 years old last August, heroine of the civil rights movement and close collaborator of Dr. Martin Luther King, presently vice-chairwoman of the Schiller Institute.

She came to Europe to tell the story of her life fight against discrimination, racism, for the right to vote of black people, which led in 1965 to the historic "Bloody Sunday" march to Montgomery, Alabama, when she was beaten and left for dead because she dared to stand on the Edmund Pettus bridge, when the horse police of Governor Wallace attacked the demonstrators.

The Voting Rights Act was the result of that fight, which she had led in Alabama with her husband S.W. Boynton for 35 years before Martin Luther King came to Alabama.

As she explained in Italy, in official meetings, public conferences and press and TV interviews, today she continues this fight with Lyndon LaRouche and his movement, as the movement which inherited Martin Luther's King dream "encompassing this time peace and development for the whole world." And fighting for peace and against discrimination today, means stopping not only the war on Iraq, but also the other wars, being planned by "those financial interests which are behind Bush" as she said, since "today it is Iraq, then it will be Iran, North Korea, but tomorrow it could be your country." She called on all European countries, starting with Italy, to prevent this war sending a clear message to Washington: we will not support the war, we will not offer our bases, of our financial support, because this war "is in the hands of the whole world" and not only the United States.

The Italian tour of Mrs. Robinson, organized by the Italian "Movimento internazionale per i Diritti Civili Solidariet…" (Italian Solidarity Movement), started on Tuesday, Sept. 24th, in Milan, where she was officially received by the President of the Lombardy Region, Roberto Formigoni. He assigned her a medal in memory of her fight for civil rights and in memory of Martin Luther King "who is to this day a strong reference point for each one of us" as President Formigoni declared in the official cerimony to present her the medal, covered next day with an official picture by the Italian dailies Corriere della Sera and Libero.

The official release of the meeting, picked up by the papers and by the Italian news agency ANSA, also emphasized the agreement between Formigoni and Amelia Robinson on the urgent need to stop the Iraq war "which would have disastrous consequences for the whole world." In the evening she met students of various Milan universities, a group of young people from Bologna, Catholic priests, nuns and some journalists at a meeting organized by the university group of the Movimento Solidariet… at a parish, Santa Maria Liberatrice, during which she was also interviewed by the main Catholic magazine "Famiglia Cristiana."

On Thursday Sept. 26, 2002, she had the first of three public meetings in Rome, at the Sala delle Letterature, organized by the City of Rome, and announced that morning by many Rome dailies with her picture. She was introduced by the responsible of the center Maria Ida Gaeta, who brought the greetings of Rome mayor Walter Veltroni and of the City Commissioner for Cultural Policy. The meeting was attended by journalists of various dailies and magazine, by Hon. Tullio Grimaldi, who had been in the United States in 1995 as member of the Judiciary Committee of the Italian Parliament to lobby for LaRouche's exoneration. Grimaldi asked Amelia Robinson the first question, on what did she thinks about Bush's decision to wage a war against Iraq, and her answer was: "I am against that war, and have called on all governments and Parliaments, including yours, to stop it by all means. President Bush thinks killing Saddam Hussein he will prevent terrorism, but does this not remind you of somebody? Already in Afghanistan, we killed children, women, old people, in order to find one man. This reminds me of Herod, who killed all new born babies under 2 years of age to find one child."

To another question, on Sept. 11th, she answered "we do not know yet who really did Sept. 11th. We should look first of all inside the United States. I am against terrorism, because I know terrorism very well, I experienced it on my own skin: the terrorism of the Ku Klux Klan, the terrorism of discrimination and hate. I am an American, and I love my country, and was horrified by Sept. 11th as everybody else. But we should find the responsibles. You do not undo a wrong doing with another one, and vengeance is only God's."

Human Rights Committee at the Italian Senate

In the afternoon Mrs. Robinson was received by the Human Rights Committee at the Italian Senate. The President of the Committee, Sen. Enrico Pianetta, and the vice-chairwoman Sen. Patrizia Toia, who already met Amelia Robinson when she was Minister of Relations with the Parliament in the previous Italian government, welcomed Mrs. Robinson and thanked her for the "honour" she was giving to the Italian Senate addressing their Committee. Sen. Pianetta also welcomed Paolo Raimondi, president of the Italian Movimento Solidariet…, and Liliana Gorini, vice president, reminding the Senators that the Movimento Solidariet… had organized Amelia's tour and referring to a short memorandum distributed to the whole committee which explains Amelia's collaboration with LaRouche and its movement in Italy.

"We read here that the Movimento Solidariet considers each human being on earth as Imago Viva Dei, a concept that we completely support." Sen. Pianetta then asked Amelia Robinson to speak about her experience, since they were meeting to "listen to her." After she had spoken, on her life fight against racism and discrimination and for human and civil rights, some women members of Senate expressed their appreciation, saying that Mrs. Robinson is a very good example for women in politics, who fight for human rights but "under totally different conditions, since you risked your life at your time" as Sen. Patrizia Toia said. Another member of Senate said: "When I come home today, I will tell my 19 years old daughter that I met history this afternooon, and that young people should do the same."

A member of the opposition picked up on Amelia's call to stop the Iraq war, saying that just the day before Italian Premier Berlusconi had adressed the Parliament, with an unclear position on what Italy will do, and that they would make sure the position becomes a clear "no" as Amelia demanded. Finally a Senator proposed that the Human Rights Committee issue a press release on that meeting, so that all members of Senate can be briefed on her proposal to send an Italian delegation to President Bush demanding to stop the war.

Public Meetings in Rome

On Friday Amelia Robinson adressed a public meeting at the Libreria Paesi Nuovi, in front of the Italian Parliament. Speakers at the round table, together with her, were Nino Galloni, economist and director of the Labor Ministry, Marguerite Lottin, a journalist and politician from Cameroon representing the Intercultural Center Griot, Lucio D'Ubaldo, editor in chief of the magazine Nuova Fase, and Paolo Raimondi, president of the Italian Movimento Solidariet…. All speakers emphasized the importance of what Amelia had just said, on the long history of her family, going back to her ancestors in Africa, when they moved to America, up to her fight against the war in Iraq. Nino Galloni and Lucio d'Ubaldo commented that she has a lot to reach to today's politicians, who instead of having a grat project, a "dream" and then overcoming problems which arise in its realization, tend to only see the problems, and give up the project before they start fighting for it.

Marguerit Lottin, as an African in Rome taking care of immigrants, said Amelia's attitude is needed also today, in fighting against racism and discrimination against immigrants, as expressed by the recent legislation to stop immigration into Italy. Also Paolo Raimondi emphasized the importance of her main lesson, that Martin Luther King's "dream" was not an illusion, but a reality to be constantly built, or, as she put it, a "vulcano" which erupted 35 years after she and her husband Mr. Boynton had started their fight for the right to vote, preparing for that vulcano.

In the audience of 80 people there were a number of important politicians, including Hon. Giovanni Galloni, former Minister at the time of the Christian Democracy in the 70s, Hon. Fioroni, member of Parliament, and Tommaso Fulfaro, leader of the Association for the Left. Father Ulisse Frascali, founder and director of the Nuovo Villaggio del Fanciullo in Rimini, was the first to intervene from the audience on his personal experience in favour of emarginated youth. At the end of the conference, Mrs. Robinson and her associates were invited for dinner to a famous ancient Restaurant near the Parliament.

The Buddhist Cultural Center

On Saturday she adressed a mass meeting of 800 people at the Soka Gakkai Buddhist Cultural Center near Rome, which had just inaugurated an exhibition on "Three Men of Peace: Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Daisaku Ikeda" the last one being the leader of the Buddhist Center. Before the meeting started, Mrs. Robinson received a number of publications of the Center, including a picture of the personal meeting between Daisaku Ikeda and Rosa Parks in Japan.

When Amelia Robinson entered the hall for the meeting, all 800 people gave her a standing ovation while she was walking up to the podium. She was introduced by Donatella Pavone, president of the Cultural Center, who summarized the principles of the Center, including the fight for peace and non violence. After a brief introduction from Marguerite Lottin and Paolo Raimondi, Amelia Robinson read the speech which she had prepared, adding a final part on the danger of war, and the urgent need to act against it, which was also received by a standing ovation. She concluded with a story she had used already in previous meetings: there was a man who had a bird in his hands. Two boys came up to him, and asked him "is the bird dead or alive?" The man answered "what do you think?" and decided that if they had told him it was dead, he would have crushed it, had they told him it was alive, he would have let if fly to its nest. "It's as you wish" he told the boys. One of they boys answered "it is alive" and the man let the bird fly high over the sky.

"It's the same with the war on Iraq: you can either watch and see, or decide to mobilize to stop this war, call on your representatives, on your elected officials, to send a delegation to Washington and stop this war. It's as you wish." After answering many questions on her personal experience with discrimination, on the LaRouche movement, and on how to act better to stop the war, Amelia was given an official present, an ancient print of a monument in Rome, the Titus Arch (a victory arch), and also offered a Japanese dance performed by a dancer and a singer, both using drums in the dance. Tens of people lined up to have an autograph from Amelia before she could move on to see the exhibition and for a reception. That evening Amelia Robinson and her associates were invited to the marriage party of Brigitte and Roberto, who had married that morning, Brigitte from Cameroon and Roberto from Rome.

Press, radio and TV coverage

In the course of her 5 days tour in Italy, Amelia Robinson was interviewed by many daily newspapers, magazines, as well as by radio and TV transmissions. On Sept. 25th the Italian dailies Corriere della Sera and "Libero" published the picture of her official meeting with the President of the Region Lombardy Roberto Formigoni who "shared her total opposition to the Iraq war" reporting also about the meeting organized by the Movimento Solidariet… at the Catholic parish of Santa Maria Liberatrice. An excellent interview was published on Sept. 27th by the Italian daily "Il Manifesto," a full page under the headline "But America is not Bush" accompanied by many pictures her and Bloody Sunday in Montgomery, and a blurb reading

"her biography encompasses a century of American history. Amelia Boynton Robinson, energetic 91 years old lady who, with her mother first and Martin Luther King later, fought for black rights. Today for the rights of latinos, chicanos and white people who expose the responsibility of US banks in recycling dirty money and drug money. Among the white people she supports, there is Lyndon LaRouche. And of President Bush she says ´in Afghanistan he acted like Herod."

The same day she was interviewed live by the Radio station Radio 24, a national radio station, in its evening transmission "Helzapoppin," hosted by Giancarlo Saltamassi, during which she had also the opportunity to answer questions coming from listeners all over Italy, and to sing live "We shall overcome" moving to tears her host, who had asked her to do so, despite the fact that the tear gas used against her on Bloody Sunday damaged her vocal cords, from the lyric soprano she was when she sang in her church choir, to all the more moving dark voice. Her singing was so beautiful that the host recorded it in order to play it every time a civil rights issue comes up on that radio.

Besides Amelia's voice, listeners had the opportunity to listen also to important quotes from Dr. King's speech "I have a dream." The day before she also taped a one hour long interview with a local television, Tele Ambiente, which had already interviewed Lyndon LaRouche after a recent conference with LaRouche in Rome.

Contact Mrs.Robinson:


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Painting of Sam and Amelia Boynton, honoring their work for civil rights, in Selma, Alabama.
Amelia Boynton Robinson Receives Award
For Civil Rights and Peace

Lombardy Regional President Roberto Formigoni presented the official medal of Lombardy Region to Schiller Institute Vice President Amelia Boynton Robinson, 91 year old heroine of the American Civil Rights Movement, and a very close associate of Lyndon and Helga LaRouche.

Mr. Formigoni presented Mrs. Robinson with the official medal of the Lombardy region, in recognition of her work for civil rights and peace, and noted that her name is well known in Italy, as the work which she carried forward with Martin Luther King, Jr. has had a significant impact in Italy.(See above for photo.)

During their meeting in Milan's Pirellone tower, Mrs. Robinson stressed the importance of working for peace through improving the economic conditions of peoples around the world, and Mr. Formigoni clearly stated his opposition to a new war in Iraq, and his support for an increased role for the United Nations in the current situation.

During her visit to Milan, where she had press interviews as well as private meetings, Mrs. Robinson she addressed a meeting of supporters, mainly youth, of the Solidarity Movement in Milan. In her remarks, Mrs. Robinson told of her past experiences in the fight for voting rights, and urged people to work with Lyndon LaRouche to change the disastrous conditions in which the world finds itself.

She said that countries should refuse to support or participate in a war with Iraq, so that George W. Bush will have to change his policy, and she denounced the political and cultural degeneration in the United States as a departure from the tradition of the U.S. Constitution.


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