ADL Mourns the Passing of Civil Rights Activist Amelia Boynton Robinson

New York, NY, August 26, 2015 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today expressed sorrow at the passing of Amelia Boynton Robinson, a civil rights activist whose courage and tenacity in Selma helped to secure the right to vote for millions of Americans.

Ms. Boynton Robinson, who in 1964 became the first African American woman to run for Congress in Alabama, asked Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to go to Selma to advocate for voting rights.  A lead organizer of the march that would later be known as Bloody Sunday, Ms. Boynton Robinson was beaten unconscious by police on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Iconic newspaper images of her lying unconscious that day would help galvanize national support for the Voting Rights Act. Ms. Boynton Robinson was a presidential guest of honor at the signing of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, and actress Lorraine Toussaint portrayed her role in the movie “Selma.”

Barry Curtiss-Lusher, ADL National Chair, and Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:

Ms. Boynton Robinson was a true heroine of the civil rights movement.  In 1964, when people were being beaten and murdered simply for advocating for the right to vote, she dared to become the first African American woman to run for Congress in Alabama.  The following year, Ms. Boynton Robinson was on the front lines in the Selma march, literally putting her life on the line for civil rights.

Ms. Boynton Robinson’s incredible courage in the face of real danger helped to pass the Voting Rights Act, securing the right to vote for millions of Americans.  All of us in the United States owe her a debt of gratitude. 

As we mourn the passing of Ms. Boynton Robinson and extend our sympathies to her family, we also recommit to continuing her legacy of securing the right to vote for all Americans.


The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all. Today it is the world’s leading organization combating anti-Semitism, exposing hate groups, training law enforcement on hate crimes, developing anti-bias education programs for students, countering cyber-hate and relentlessly pursuing equal rights for all.

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