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Amelia Boynton Robinson was born Amelia Platts on August 18, 1911, in Savannah, Georgia. Both of Platts’ parents, George and Anna Platts, were of Black, Cherokee, and German descent. She was one of 10 born into the household. Religion played a big role in her upbringing and ultimately shaped her activism later on.
After high school, Platts began her undergraduate studies at Georgia State College (modern-day Savannah State University). She transferred to Tuskegee Institute (modern-day Tuskegee University) in Alabama. She graduated from Tuskegee with a degree in Home Economics. She furthered her education at Tennessee State University, Virginia State University, and Temple University.
Shortly after completing her degree programs, Platts began working as a teacher in Georgia. She then began working as a home demonstration agent for Dallas County with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Selma, Alabama. In 1930, she met her co-worker and future husband, Samuel Boynton.
After the couple married in 1936, the Boyntons embarked on a thirty-year fight for equality. Boynton founded the Dallas County Voters League in 1933. From the early ’30s through the ’50s, she held voter registration drives, encouraging Black people in Selma to vote. Although her husband died in 1963, Boynton continued the work they had started together.
By 1964, the Civil Rights Movement had gained traction. Boynton decided to run for the Democratic seat in Congress in Alabama; she was the first Black woman to do so. She earned 10% of the votes but did not win. She then teamed up with Martin Luther King, Jr. in her fight for Black suffrage. Boynton and King then planned the Selma-to-Montgomery march of 1965.
On March 7, 1965, Boynton and King were accompanied by over 600 protesters who were ready to march. As the protesters marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, police officers attacked them. 17 protesters–including Boynton–were hospitalized. Boynton specifically was photographed as she lay in a puddle of blood. This image drew national attention to the Civil Rights Movement in the South. March 7, 1965, is remembered as “Bloody Sunday”
As a result of “Bloody Sunday,” the Voting Rights Act was passed on August 6, 1965. The bill, which granted voting rights to Black U.S. citizens, was signed by then-president Lyndon B. Johnson. Boynton was in attendance for the signing as the guest of honor.
Boynton remarried in 1969 to musician Bob W. Billups but he died in 1973. She remarried once more to a Tuskegee classmate, James Robinson, shortly thereafter. After her husband died in 1988, Boynton Robinson stayed in Tuskegee and acted as the vice chair of the Schiller Institute.
In 2015, Boynton was escorted alongside then-president Barack Obama across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery march. Later that year, Amelia Boynton Robinson suffered several strokes and died on August 26, 2015. She was 104 years old.
**The views and actions of the DDH historical figures that are featured may not reflect the views and beliefs of Ramiro The Writer (Nikodemus Mwandishi). Thank you.**