Black Women Led the Movement Behind the Voting Rights Act

N’Dea Yancey-Bragg, writing for USA Today on the leadership of Black women during the Civil Rights movement that led to the Voting Rights Act.

Boynton Robinson’s mother was a suffragist and she grew up in a “culture of justice,” according to Faya Rose Touré, a fellow activist and lawyer. She said Boynton Robinson and her husband Sam, also a voting rights advocate, came to Selma in the 1920s where they started their own insurance business.

“They saw [voting rights] as a key to the road to justice, to equality. They saw it as the key to end Jim Crow segregation in the South,” Touré said. “They lived long enough and were smart enough to know that voting rights may not be a panacea, but it was certainly something that could be fought for.”

The couple worked with sharecroppers, teaching them about voting rights “in an underground manner,” according to Verdell Lett Dawson, board chairman of the Historic Tabernacle Baptist Church Selma AL Legacy Foundation. When Boynton Robinson’s husband died in 1963, she used his memorial service at Tabernacle Baptist Church as the first mass meeting for voting rights in Selma.

Also in attendance at that meeting was Marie Foster, the sister of a dentist who became interested in voting rights after being denied the opportunity to vote multiple times early in her life. She began holding voter registration classes and teaching people to read in the basement of Tabernacle, Dawson said.

Both women became the first two female members of the Dallas County Voters League, a group that led a voting registration campaign and some of whom would eventually be known as the Courageous Eight.

Yancey-Bragg, N’Dea. (2020, August 6). The Voting Rights Act was signed 55 years ago. Black women led the movement behind it. USA Today. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/08/06/voting-rights-act-55th-anniversary-how-black-women-led-movement/5535967002/

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