Yes, Amelia Boynton Robinson is still an activist at 109. The film Selma came out in advance of last weekend’s 50th anniversary of the Selma march that was so viciously attacked by the infamous sheriff Jim Clark, with the approval of the infamous governor George Wallace. So over this last weekend, the actual 50th anniversary, we saw President Obama marching over the bridge, holding the hand of Amelia Boynton Robinson as she was pushed in a wheelchair. On ”Bloody Sunday” fifty years ago when she was in her sixties, she was beaten unconscious and her photograph was flashed all over the world, causing massive outrage. The events of that day led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Amy Goodman interviewed her and Jesse Jackson at the bridge on Saturday.
We recently celebrated her heroic life here in Los Angeles where she received the Nelson Mandela Leadership Award from Nelson’s grandson Kweku. The following day, Saturday, February 21st, we held a reception for her at the Creative Visions Center in Malibu. Director Kathy Eldon, an award recipient from the Mandela family, and I hosted this event. Amelia did media interviews including a front page LA Times article and video, Saturday March 7th. This video narrates photographs of that day and footage of Amelia at our fundraiser recounting the events of Bloody Sunday to school children.
Many of us are JUST NOW discovering this unsung heroine of the Civil Rights Movement. A voting rights pioneer already at the age of 10, Amelia and her mother went town to town by horse and buggy to register voters. Selma was actually Her idea. She was right in the fray with Martin and Coretta King, and is amply depicted in the Oscar nominated film, Selma, although the actual extent of her immense participation is not presented enough. Amelia was a successful business woman and ran for Congress in 1964. Jim Clark knew to target her, dragged her by the neck and put her in jail for a day. Her followers all went to jail with her in support.
Amelia is a deserving candidate for a presidential medal of honor. Even now she is currently working to help drug dependent teen parents. Although I’ve seen her 1905 d.o.b. on her license, sometimes her age is listed as 105, but in any case, Amelia has outlived her savings so she is in need of more than a shiny medal. We honored her here in Los Angeles and raised funds for her needs as a centenarian. Now we can recognize this charismatic heroine and celebrate her epic journey that started long before the 1960 struggles.