Highlights | Calendar | Music | Books | Concerts | Links | Education | Health
What's New | LaRouche | Spanish Pages | Poetry | Maps
Dialogue of Cultures
Amelia Boynton Robinson Address To Talladega, Alabama Town Hall Meeting at the Mabra Center, January 20, 2004
I'm so glad to be here this morning. And when I look at this group, I see a calibre of the very best in mindpeople who want to know how to solve physical problems. And, I don't have to tell you how old I am: when you see me coming up the steps, you'll know!
I'm very glad to be here, and I'm so glad to be associated with Lyndon LaRouche, and the organization that we have Schiller Institute. And I think back of the time, when for some 30-some odd years, 35 years, my husband and I worked to get people registered, to get them off of the farms. I don't know whether, in this section, you had that trouble or not, but there were plantations. And when we did get in touch with Dr. King, and that is, after Rosa Parks sat on the bus, I was told, by telephone, by notes, by meeting people, "Don't have Dr. King come into Selma. Because he's a rabble rouser. He's an agitator. And the work that you folk have been doing will be destroyed."
But, you know what? I met Dr. King, when he first came into Alabama. And I worked with him. And then, having been told not to have him to come into Selma, where we had worked so long, to get justice, I said, "Well, I thought I knew him. Being a Communist? I don't believe it. Being a rabble-rouser? As far as I know, he wasn't one." So, I ever worked much more closely with him, even in places where he was writing his speeches, and whatnot, I tried my best to find out what it was, that people said he was a "rabble-rouser," and a "Communist."
I found none of these things! I found a man, who was working, and on a larger scale, doing the same thing that we were doing: lifting people up, and giving them courage, giving them dignity, giving them self-respect. And, I said, "Well, my gosh! I will not only continue to work as I'm working with Dr. King. But, I will even work farther with him, where he could use me, in getting me to go to various places and speak in his stead."
Then, later on, through things that nobody could control but God, I married for the third time. And this fellow I married, said, one day, "Let us go to New York, to the Shriner's meeting." And I liked to travel, so I said, "Yes, let's go." Okay, we wentbut he was not a Shriner. And you gentlemen know something about Masons, and Shriners, and whatnot. We could only go around, where they had the displays from the various companies.
And while I was looking at something, and my husband came over, and we were looking at some display, a little guyjust about that tallcame up, and he started talking to me: "yakkety, yakkety, yakkety, yak." And, the first thing I thought was, "Why aren't you talking to my husband, a six-footer? Wouldn't he be afraid, that he would turn around and maybe push you out of the way?" And then, I paid very little attention, until he said, "And we have a blueprint, where we can put water across the Sahara Desert in Africa."
I said, "What did you say?"
And, when he repeated what he said, I began to listen. And then he said, "I'm working with Lyndon LaRouche. And the organization is ICLC" (I think). And he started talking about driving drugs out of a certain section of New York, as a pilot project they had. Then, I said, "What is your name?" He said, "My name is Dennis Speed." And I said, "Well, I like your program, becuase I knew, if my husband were living we would have been doing the same thing, down in little Selma."
Then, he said, to me, "I'd like to invite you to come to New York, where we're going to have this project." And I said, "Okay." And I invited him to come to Tuskegeeat that time, I was in Tuskegee. And he came to Tuskegee. And I became acquainted with the name, Lyndon LaRouche.
I'm telling you this, because I know that you have heard, that this man is running for President. But, "this"; but "that"; and but "the other." But, just as I saw what was in Dr. King, and followed him very much closely, I had the opportunity to go to one of the conferences. And I said, "This guy is doing what we did, combined with Dr. King did!" And this is the program that is going to turn this countryand now, I understand, the worldupside-down, and put it back on the standard, which it should be. That the constitutional rights of these countries will be respected and be carried out. Certainly, you know, America should.
And I looked back, and I started thinking. And people said, "How do you happen to be so much interested in politics?" And I thought about my mother. My father backed her up in everything she did. But, I guess that, if she had been living in Tuskegee or in fact, Selma, AlabamaI guess they would have slapped her face! Because, she was the kind of person that would not take, even if she were not involvedshe would not take anything that was corrupt, or anybody who was disadvantaged and being taken advantage of. I have seen her take her finger and put it in the judge's face, and say, "I'm going to get your job! You'll not have a job, when time comes around for you to become elected!"
I have seen her, at that time I must have been about five years old: We were on the streetcar, and I imagine it must have been the time that they were trying to segregate people. This is in Savannah, Georgia. And I saw her get off of the streetcar, take the money, and throw it in the man's face, and say, "I'm taking you to court!" She was just that type of womanI wish I had the courage and the dogmatic tenacity that my mother had! I tried to. Because, I have faced a whole lot of things.
In 1920-21, when women of the United States were given the right to vote, my mother had a horse and buggy; she would have me to sit in the seat with her; and she would go from house to house. And I would get out and rap on doors, and ring doorbells; and then, people would come out, and she would take them down to the registration office, or to the polls. Now, I didn't know what in the world she was doing, but I knew that's what she was doing, because she was political. And she taught us to be political.
And, when it comes down to segregation and discrimination, we knew nothing about it. We just wouldn't talk. My father built an 11-room house. It was in a section, I thought he built it there, because he wanted to. I didn't know it was because it was in a segregated section. We went to a school, a new school, that had perhaps around 50 teachers. And I thought it was segregated but I thought we went to that school, because my father had a part of the contract of that school!
Then, I went to Tuskegee, because I wanted to do it, defying my whole family, who said that, you've got to work in the field today, and you got to get lessons today. I don't care if somebody else can do it, I can do it, too!
So, I found myself in Tuskegee, not realizing that one of the days before I died, I'd be living in Tuskegee. When I graduated, I went down to Americas Institute to teach. And my first check, was one that I was so proud of, I went down to the bank to put the money in the bank. And there was a white guy, who was standing up to the bank. And, I guess my mind was, maybe, wondering where my boyfriend wasit was wondering. I just standing there. And the guy looked at me, and he said, "Don't you see me here!? Get away from here, before I" And, I looked at him and said, "Who do you think you are talking to? I'm not one of them!" I don't know what I meant! I think I must have meant that I was not ofthis is in Americas, Georgiathat I was not a citizen of Americas, Georgia. He held up his hand to hit me, and the first thing I thought is, "I'll take my left hand and knock him down"and he was way over me! And, he dropped his handand walked off.
And, when he walked off, I came out, feeling that, "I'm glad I didn't have a battle," because I'd never fought in my life. And I was talking to the manthe school was Americas Institute; it's not in operation, now, but it was a Baptist school. And I saw the secretary. Somehow, I started talking to him, and he said, "Dear, do you know, that those people'll lynch you?! You talk to a man like that? You're going to be lynched, if you don't stop that kind of stuff! You're in Americas, Georgia!" And I said, "Hmph! He better not hit me!"
But, that was my first encounter, in discrimination.
Then, before the year was up, before I finished that year, I was asked to come to Selma, Alabama, to work with the people who were share-croppers. I don't know if any of you know about share-croppers, or not. But, share-croppers were those people who were on plantations; could not get off, whenever they got ready; never knew what they made. They were told in December, "Okay, John, you're the head of the family. You come on, and let's have a settlement." And the settlement would go like this:
"Well, John, you made 11 bales of cotton. You take five. I'll take five. You know you can't half a baleso I'll just take that.
"Now, John, the old mule died. We have to have another mule. And we have have seed, feed, fertilizer. And we have to have poison for the cotton. And then, your daughter took sick, and you said you wanted your daughter to go the doctor. We gotta take that out, because I looked out after that.
"Now, John, you know, just before Christmas you came, and told me you wanted to borrow some money. We have to take that out.
"Well, John, you're almost out of debt. Do better next time."
That's what I walked into. That's what my husband walked into, because he was a county agent. And we got together and said, "Uh-uh! We are going to try to get these people off of this farm. And get them to the place that they can have dignity, and have self-esteem. We're going to try to help them to find some land." And we looked around. Some of the people found land. Some of them wanted to get off, and some said, "No. My great-great grandfather came from Africa, and he was in the same house. And I'm going stay in the same house!" You couldn't do anything with them.
But many of them got off of the farm. And you know, there are people, regardless of color, who feel that injustice is something I wish I could fix. There was a white guy, who was in Selma and he had a big business. And he said to my husband, "If you can find any of your people who can find some property, I will loan them money, free of interest for the first year." And, we got a lot of those people off the farm!
Do you think the establishment liked that? No-o-o!
We became targets. We began to realize, telling the people, "Now, whether you're on the plantation or not, what you need to do, is to try to register and vote." The NAACP was behind us. So, we got the people together in most of all of the communities we had, and we taught them how to fill out those applications by lamplight. And when the establishment found out what we were doing"you gotta go; you just gotta go."
But, working for the Federal government, they couldn't do us, like they did so many of the other people. They ran a whole lot of them off of the farm. There were people who had mortgages and whatnotthey foreclosed them. We had a family, a Washington family, to fill out applications to send their children to the white school. They ran them out of town. They ran C.J. Adams out of town, who was well-known, because he was helping the servicemen to get their checks.
But, they decided, "Well, we can't touch these two people, because they're working for the government. Butwe will pressure them: economically, physically," and every kind of way they could. So, the first thing is, they ran my husband off the road. I was not with him that day. The car was a total loss, but God saved him.
The telephone became a nuisance: "Get out of town! You better not be seen on the street! We're going to burn your house down!" And so often, I'd answer the phoneand most often, my husband would answerand the telephone would ring, beginning 7 o'clock in the evening until around 8 o'clock in the morning, and nobody would say anything. Other times, they would say, "Get out of town." And my husband told one man, when he told him, "You're supposed to be gone," "Well, you know, I live at 1315 Lapso St. and that's my house. And nobody runs me out of my own home." And they didn't like that, at all.
That is the reason why, in Selma, Alabama, the people who were the dignitaries, African-American dignitaries, the business and the professional people, went and hid under the bed, almost, when Dr. King came in. Because they were afraid. And they were told, what happened to the Boyntons, will happen to you: At that time, my husband had passed. And he died because of the pressure. He died because of a stroke.
He died because a man came into the office to beat him with a stickit just happened that I was there, and I grabbed the stick. And when I grabbed the stick, my husbandwho, to me, was the most, the type of person who was non-violent; I've never seen him angry in my lifeso when I grabbed the stick, two guys came and got him out, and said, "Get out of here!" They got this man out, this white man, who also had a real estate and insurance agency similar to ours. And when they got him outthe city hall being across, I called. My husband said, "Give him his stick!" because he frothed at the mouth; his eyes looked like coals of fire; his hair was standing up on his headand if there's such thing as looking like the Devil, that's the way he looked. And he kept on screaming, "Give me my stick!"
So, my husband said, "Give him his stick." I threw it out, of the door. He took that stick, and broke that front glass door down, from the top to the bottom. He broke both of the display windows, one on each side. And finally, the city police department, right across the street, came over, and gently led him across the street.
Five minutes afterward, he was out.
But, you know what they did? They continued to harass us. We decided we were going to put an employment into our business. And we were getting young people and sending them to New York, in order that they could make money and go to college the next year, at 18 years old. And they found out that the license was $30. When I went there to get the license, I had to pay $300! First, I wouldn't get it. I came back and told my husband about it. And he said, "We're going to pay $300." So, we paid the $300, and got the license.
Then, there were people, African-Americans, who had businesses: They had cafes; they ran their trucks; they had construction companies. And they would have to get licensed, get their insurance, take the receipt, go to the city hall or the county courthouse, and get their license. And every one of them was told, "We don't honor that insurance." Now, we were working for the same company, in God knows whereNew York, Chicago, or somewhere else"we don't honor that. You go on, and get your money back. And go over, across two or three blocks across, to where the white companies are, and get your insurance." And, that was the fear, that was placed upon these people.
Now, my husband, when this man made an attempt to beat him, the last time, he went to the hospital. He had been in and out several times, and that is why he had resigned from becoming county agent, and had his own business. And when this guy did what he did, he went to the hospital for the last time, and he never came out alive. But he told me, "I want you to carry on!"
But, to show you the fear of peopleand you know, fear is a terrible thing!when people are afraid, they can be used! And they have to do, according to what the other folks said to do, because they're afraid to do the right thing. And, when my husband died, there were a few people, a few African-Americans, who realized that we were fighting and struggling for justice. This minister saidin fact the young man that Dr. King sent into Selma, was working with young people. But, when my husband passed, this young man, who's name was Lafayette, went to this minister, the Rev. L.L. Anderson, and said, "I would like for you to have a memorial in your church, for Mr. Boynton, who has passed." So, he said, "Yes, I'll be glad to do it."
But, when we talked with the deacons, the deacons said, "Oh no, you don't! You know the establishment doesn't like S.W. Boynton!"
So, he said, "Okay. I'm going to have it, if I have to have it in the street." And when he said, "I'm going to have to have it in the street," then they decided they were going to open the doorand 300 or more people came to the memorial!
The sheriff called all full-blooded white men, "Come into my office and be sworn in." And they were sworn in. And these people had to come in, by the way of these deputized sheriffs. This was on Friday night. On Saturday, they were home. They thought about what they had done, and the meeting, and what S.W. Boynton had done for them. On Monday, they went to their jobsthey went to their jobs, in the lumber yards, in the factories, in the homes, all over Selma: When they went to their jobs on Monday morning, they were told, "You're fired. You don't have any job! Because you attended that S.W. Boynton's memorial."
And that was the first time, that the adults decided, "We are not going to take it any more. My children are out there marching and demonstrating. My children are going to jail. And here we are, sitting up, and thinking that they're out of trouble by marching and demonstrating. We are going to get out there and demonstrate. We are going to march. And we are going to see, that we are going to see that we get the right to vote!"
And it takes determination! It takes something that everybody doesn't have and should have: self-esteem. And, fight for what is right. Because, it does not stop with us. Just like my parents, fighting for justice. And some of it fell off on me. And if you fight for justice, and if you fight for the right, and you know, because you've found out that the lies that have been told you about this organization, and about the man that we expect to put in the White House, you will realize that there will be a right-about-turn, and this country will be the country as it was right after Franklin Delano Roosevelt came in.
MODERATOR: Thank you, Mrs. Boynton, for that outstanding, by taking us back in time, about the share-croppers and all of that, and bringing us up to where we need to be, today. And we thank you for that.
Writings of Other Great Thinkers Leibniz, Mendelssohn, Pushkin, Heine, Plato and Others
The Schiller Institute
Thank you for supporting the Schiller Institute. Your membership and contributions enable us to publish FIDELIO Magazine, and to sponsor concerts, conferences, and other activities which represent critical interventions into the policy making and cultural life of the nation and the world.
Contributions and memberships are not tax-deductible.
Home | Search | About | Fidelio | Economy | Strategy | Justice | Conferences | Join