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Selma, Alabama Celebrates
"Boynton Weekend"

Civil Rights Heroes Honored in
Long Overdue Ceremony

August 17-18, 2002
by Marianna Wertz

Mrs. Amelia Boynton Robinson at the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute, in downtown Selma, Alabama. She is standing in front of the exhibit dedicated to the Voting Rights Act.

Ceremonies Honor the Life and Work
of Sam and Amelia Boynton

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Civil rights heroes Amelia Boynton Robinson and her late husband, Sam W. Boynton, were honored for their leadership in the civil rights movement in a beautiful, though long-overdue celebration August 17-18, 2002, sponsored by the City of Selma, Alabama and the National Voting Rights Museum Institute. Sam Boynton and Amelia; she is the Vice Chairwoman of the Schiller Institute and a world-renowned leader of the LaRouche political movement pioneered the fight for voting rights for black Americans in Alabama, beginning in the 1930s.

Together, they spent decades laying the groundwork for the movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; they invited King to launch the famous fight in Selma which resulted in passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act; and they supported him, when virtually everyone else shrank back in fear. The great danger and personal cost involved led to Sam Boynton's early death from a heart attack, and left Amelia Boynton gassed and beaten on the Bloody Sunday march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, on March 7, 1965.

Yet, until this long-overdue celebration, the two had never been honored in the city where they gave so much.

'Don't Know Our History'

Civil rights attorney J.L. Chestnut, author of Black in Selma, who worked with the Boyntons, noted in his tribute at the event that Mrs. Boynton Robinson "has been honored all over the world, and all over the United States. But the question was, when will Selma get around to honoring Mr. and Mrs. Boynton?" The reason for the delay, he said, is "because we don't know our history. There would have been no Selma civil rights movement except for S.W. and Amelia Boynton.... There is no way to measure the influence of the Boyntons on this town and nation. The [Civil] Rights Bill of 1964," which was the fruit of the Boyntons' work, "changed the world.... They inspired Martin Luther King. They inspired me.... I am glad," Chestnut concluded, "that Selma has come to do for you, Amelia, what the world has already done."

Finally, perhaps 30 years later than it should have happened, that celebration was done right at the Boynton Weekend, planned to coincide with Mrs. Boynton Robinson's 91st birthday. The LaRouche movement was there to give the hundreds gathered a sense of the work which this brave woman has accomplished in these last two decades, as she has traveled the world to teach the lessons of the civil rights movement and to campaign for the man who, as she said, has picked up the broken pieces of that movement and leads it today, Lyndon LaRouche.

Youth Festival

The weekend began Saturday with an all-day festival at Selma University, attended by about 300 youth, with sporting events, music, speeches, and food. The highlight was the unveiling of an exhibit by the festival organizers, Selma Councilwoman Bennie Ruth Crenshaw and Felecia Pettway of the National Voting Rights Museum. This features a portrait of the Boyntons, painted by local artist Nate Brown, which will be housed in a waterfall monument being constructed at the campus.

Amelia Boynton Robinson addressed the Saturday gathering briefly, urging the youth to exercise their right and duty as citizens by registering to vote and running for office, a message she has brought to youth all across this country over the past decade. Mrs. Boynton Robinson had been, herself, among the first ten black Americans to register to vote in Selma's Dallas County, which she succeeded in doing in 1930.

Mrs. Robinson being interviewed by CBS affiliate in Selma, WAKA- TV.
The event was filmed by local television and the Selma Times-Journal, which ran front-page headlines for two days on the celebration. Mrs. Boynton Robinson is aware of the Selma press blackout and slander of LaRouche's political movement in recent years; she immediately made a point, in her interview with CBS-TV affiliate WAKA, to say, "I work with Lyndon LaRouche, who is picking up the broken pieces of the civil rights movement. Have you heard of him? I'm sure you haven't heard anything good, just as you didn't hear anything good about Dr. Martin Luther King, or about Jesus Christ when he was being persecuted."

On the Saturday program, at Mrs. Boynton Robinson's request, Schiller Institute Vice President Marianna Wertz brought greetings from Lyndon and Helga LaRouche, and then introduced German Bundestag candidate Louis Donath (who had travelled to Selma especially for the occasion), who beautifully sang a German Lied for the assembled youth.

Political Leaders Pay Homage

The Sunday event was a four-hour celebration, including a sit-down dinner prepared by young volunteers, which included speeches honoring Mrs. Boynton Robinson by virtually every Selma politician, including the recently elected Mayor James Perkins, Jr., as well as resolutions passed in her honor by both houses of the Alabama State Legislature. U.S. Congressman Earl Hilliard, whose district includes Selma, and who recently lost his reelection bid due to an intense campaign against him by the Zionist lobby, sent a message of congratulations.

Mayor Perkins called the Selma civil rights fight "our Ground Zero." "It takes a long time for ground zero to heal," he said. "We ought to consider ourselves blessed because God decided to use Selma as Ground Zero. I thank God that in every instance and generation, he raised up such leaders. Thank God for the Boyntons." Three members of the Selma City Council then presented Mrs. Boynton Robinson the Key to the City.

State Sen. Hank Sanders read the State Senate resolution and a birthday message from Gov. Don Siegelman (D), who thanked Mrs. Boynton Robinson for her "many years of dedication to preserving the noble principles of equality, fairness and truth ... which continue to greatly benefit our nation's citizens." Sanders, himself a noted civil rights leader, added that "Don Siegelman would not be Governor today except for Amelia Boynton Robinson, and he knows this."

Former Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford, who is now a state representative, read the Alabama House resolution paying tribute to Mrs. Robinson. He promised to honor her similarly in Tuskegee, where she lives today, saying, "I would not be where I am today, were it not for Sam and Amelia Boynton " Ford also commended her for her "work with Lyndon LaRouche around the world today."

Civil rights attorney Rose Sanders choked back tears as she thanked Amelia Robinson for giving her the courage to fight today, against many of the same problems which the Boyntons confronted 50 years ago. Sanders reported that her radio station, a key support for Hilliard's unsuccessful re-election campaign, had just this year been burned down by still-unknown persons. "Fifty years later, we are still having some of the same troubles," she said. "And I hope I will have the courage that you had then. You are as needed now as you were then,"; Sanders told Mrs. Boynton Robinson. "It's painful, but if you can stick it out, maybe I can, too"

Attending the ceremonies on both days were nearly 20 members of four generations of the Boynton family, some of whom came from as far away as California. Bruce Boynton, Sam and Amelia's son and a civil rights attorney himself, who won a landmark Supreme Court decision on busing while a law student, spoke on Sunday, representing the family. He recounted, in an emotional speech, the memorial service for his father which was the first mass gathering in Selma's nascent civil rights movement. He recalled looking down the street at the thousands of faces, "the people my father never saw," as Sam and Amelia Boynton struggled almost alone for years. That mass demonstration, sparked by the death of this great man, was the beginning of the movement which resulted, just one year later, in passage of the Voting Rights Act, Boynton said.

A Beautiful Soul

The LaRouche movement's Marianna Wertz then introduced Mrs. Boynton Robinson. "As Vice Chairwoman of the Schiller Institute since the late 1980s, Amelia has travelled the world, joining with Lyndon and Helga LaRouche, her adopted son and daughter, in fighting to bring the lessons of the American civil rights movement to a sorely troubled world. Though they couldn't be here themselves today, the LaRouches asked that I convey their greeting and wish for the success of this wonderful celebration. Amelia is the embodiment of what Friedrich Schiller calls a 'beautiful soul' and a 'citizen of the world,' "

Mrs.Wertz continued. "Her work with the Schiller Institute is typified by her trip just last month to Iran, where she was invited by the Iranian National Television to speak to audiences across the country about the real America, the America she and the Schiller Institute represent. She spoke with thousands of people there, who are watching in horror as the other America prepares for yet another senseless war on distant shores. She gave them hope that there is a movement in this country today which still is fighting to realize the dream of Dr. King, and will not let this nation become a new Roman Empire.

"Wherever she goes- be it the war-torn Balkans, East Berlin just after the fall of the Wall, or to hundreds of classrooms across this nation, Amelia has inspired audiences worldwide with the fierce, yet loving determination which she brings to the fight for dignity and fundamental rights for all human beings. Thank you, Amelia, for all that you've given to the world."

Amelia Boynton Robinson spoke briefly but poignantly at the close of the Sunday banquet. "I am glad that I have been given the opportunity by the Schiller Institute to go about this country and tell the truth. We have good people in America, but we've got to kill the cancer of hate. They hate me today, but tomorrow they hate themselves. I have given children the will to be somebody, and I have seen the results. These young people," she said, pointing to the youth in the audience, "are our future. At 18 they can go to the electric chair; they can also vote. We need to give them the good foundation they will need to make the right decisions in life."

At 91 years young, Amelia Boynton Robinson is inspiring youth today with her courage and determination, just as much as she and her husband did 50 years ago. The honor bestowed on them at last by Selma, was a fitting testament to their enormous contribution to humanity.

Related Articles:

Meet Amelia Boynton Robinson

Amelia's 90th Birthday Celebration

Amelia Hosted in Teheran , June 2002

Program of the Boynton Weekend (pdf)

International Conferences

Dialogue of Cultures

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Photos from the Boynton Weekend
All photos by Marianna Wertz

Leadership and Courage in 2002

Left to right: Selma Mayor James Perkins, Jr., Mrs. Amelia Boynton Robinson, Mrs. Anderson (wife of Rev. Anderson who worked with the Boyntons and was one of the “Courageous 8”—the leaders of the Selma Civil Rights movement), Councilwoman Bennie Ruth Crenshaw, who organized the celebration.
By the Edmund Pettus Bridge, 2002
Above, Mrs. Robinson stands with her granddaughter, Carver Boynton, in front of the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where Mrs. Robinson was gassed, beaten and left for dead on ``Bloody Sunday.'' Carver is named for the great scientist and Tuskegee Institute instructor, George Washington Carver, who was godfather to her father, Bruce Boynton, Sam and Amelia Boynton's son.
On the Edmund Pettus Bridge
March, 1965
Amelia, on that Edmund Pettus Bridge, was gassed, beaten and left for dead on ``Bloody Sunday.''
Sam and Amelia Boynton
This painting by local artist Nate Brown, adorned the cover of the weekend's program. A waterfall monument at Selma University campus will be built to house the painting.

Honoring Selma's Civil Rights Heroes:
Photo exhibit at Selma University on the life and work
of the Sam and Amelia Boynton.


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