Long-time civil rights activist Amelia Boynton Robinson died Wednesday morning, according to her family.
Boynton Robinson first gained national attention championing voting rights for blacks in 1965, when she was brutally beaten on “Bloody Sunday.” She nearly died that day on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. Instead, she rose to prominence as a Civil Rights leader. Half a century after “Bloody Sunday,” the nation’s first black president, Congressman John Lewis and First Lady Michelle Obama would help push her wheelchair across that same bridge, commemorating her efforts and the efforts of others from decades before.
Boynton Robinson was born in Savannah, Georgia. She graduated from Tuskeegee University in 1927. In 1932, she became a registered voter and dedicated much of her time to registering other African Americans to vote.
“She was my hero. I’ve never seen someone so self-sacrificing,” her adopted daughter Germaine Bowser told MSNBC.
In 1964, Boynton Robinson became the first woman to run for U.S. Congress from the state of Alabama.
Recently, she dealt with health issues. Boynton Robinson suffered a stroke in July. She celebrated her birthday just last week and her family says until her death, she was just as energetic and passionate as ever.
Rev. Al Sharpton, a long-time friend of Boynton and host of MSNBC’s PoliticsNation with Rev. Al Sharpton, said, “Had it not been for her sacrifice–being brutally beaten on the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma and her continued fighting to maintain the Voting Rights Act–we would not be where we are today.”
On Wednesday, the White House issued a statement saying:
“For most of her 104 years, Amelia committed herself to a simple, American principle: that everybody deserves the right to vote. Fifty years ago, she marched in Selma, and the quiet heroism of those marchers helped pave the way for the landmark Voting Rights Act. But for the rest of her life, she kept marching - to make sure the law was upheld, and barriers to the polls torn down. And America is so fortunate she did. To honor the legacy of an American hero like Amelia Boynton requires only that we follow her example - that all of us fight to protect everyone’s right to vote.”
Amelia Boynton Robinson was 104-years old.