MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA—Amelia Boynton Robinson, a champion for civil rights, who nearly died while helping lead the 1965 Selma march on “Bloody Sunday,” has died. Boynton Robinson, championed voting rights for African Americans, was the first Black woman to run for Congress in Alabama. She was 104.
Her son, Bruce Boynton, said she had been hospitalized after suffering multiple strokes and died early Wednesday morning in Montgomery.
Robinson invited Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to participate in a voting rights march in Selma, Alabama, in 1965. She was badly beaten and gassed during the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on what became known as “Bloody Sunday.”
Fifty years later, Barack Obama, the first black U.S. president, walked alongside her across the span as she was being pushed in a wheelchair during 50th anniversary commemorations in March.
In January, Boynton Robinson attended the State of the Union address as a special guest of Democratic Alabama Rep. Terri Sewell, who said Boynton’s 1964 run for Congress paved the way for her. Sewell is Alabama’s first elected black congresswoman. Boynton was the first woman to run on a Democratic ticket in Alabama and the first black woman to run for Congress in the state, according to the Encyclopedia of Alabama.
“Mrs. Boynton Robinson suffered grave injustices on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma at the hands of state troopers on Bloody Sunday, yet she refused to be intimidated,” Sewell said in January. “She marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, my colleague Rep. John Lewis and thousands of others from Selma to Montgomery and ultimately witnessed the day when their work led to the passage of the historic Voting Rights Act of 1965.”
Boynton Robinson had asked Martin Luther King Jr. to come to Selma to mobilize the local community in the civil rights movement. She worked with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and helped plan the Selma to Montgomery march. She was invited as a guest of honor to attend the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
Boynton Robinson, born in Savannah, Georgia, worked as an educator there and with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Selma, Alabama. She educated local residents on food production, nutrition health care and more, according to the Encyclopedia of Alabama.
Tuskegee University officials have said Boynton Robinson graduated from the school in 1927 and in recent years donated much of her personal memorabilia from the 1950s and 1960s to the university.
Boynton said the family is planning events in his mother’s honor in Tuskegee and is also working to arrange a ceremony at the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Sept. 8.