Happy Women’s History Month! This is the 15th blog of a series of blogs called “Women’s History Month Heroes You Should Know”. This series will be a collection of my research into little-known American women who have made history in one way or another (or multiple ways!).
The focus of today’s blog is Amelia Boynton Robinson, a civil rights leader during the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” march from Selma to Montgomery.
This is her story.
Importance of Education
According to blackpast.org, Amelia Boynton Robinson was born in Savannah, Georgia in 1911. She grew up with parents who felt impassioned by the importance of education. Boynton Robinson’s mother oftentimes took her along to gather support for women’s suffrage in African American communities. Amelia began school at what is now known as Savannah State University but was then called the Georgia State Industrial College for Colored Youth.
Work with the USDA
After a few years, she transferred to the Tuskegee Institute and graduated from there in 1927 with a degree in home economics. She then landed a position with the United States Department of Agriculture as a home demonstration agent. In this position, she spent time traveling Alabama’s countryside to promote more sustainable agriculture. She felt passionate about helping Black families who were sharecroppers.
Fighting Voter Suppression
After meeting a USDA extension agent with the same passion, Boynton Robinson married Samuel Boynton and they worked together to educate Black communities on land ownership and political empowerment through voting registration. Together, they joined the Dallas County Voters League and traveled around giving talks about how to combat voter suppression. Even when Samuel died in 1963, Amelia used his funeral to generate more support for political activism.
Over the next few years, she worked closely with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to protest Jim Crow laws and segregation. On March 7th, 1965, Boynton Robinson helped lead the march from Selma to Montgomery. She became one of over 70 victims brutalized by state troopers and other law enforcement on “Bloody Sunday”.
Recognized for Her Life’s Work
After that day, Boynton Robinson sat in attendance when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act in 1965. After living in New York for a short while, she eventually ended up in Alabama marrying her old classmate James Robinson. She still remained active fighting for civil rights, joining the Schiller Institute as vice-chair. She was awarded the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Medal in 1990 and recognized at President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address in 2015. Read more about Amelia Boynton Robinson here.
Read another post from the blog series “Women’s History Month Heroes You Should Know” here.