The movement that began in a bungalow is traveling nearly 900 miles to the home of Dr. King’s “Dream.”
A coalition of organizations, led by the NAACP, embarked Saturday on an 860-mile, 40-day, 40-night march from Selma, Alabama to Washington, D.C. This initiative recalls the original Civil Rights Movement.
America’s Journey for Justice began August 1 with a prayer at the historic Boynton House, a modest home in Selma that witnessed much of the fight for integration, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1965 march across the notorious Edmund Pettus Bridge. Fifty years later, activists will caravan some 860 miles through Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, and conclude September 16 in Washington.
“Why march?” NAACP president Cornell William Brooks asked. “We march because our lives matter, our votes matter, our jobs matter, our schools matter.” The organizers of America’s Journey for Justice stress four issues: the vitality of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, criminal-justice reform, job growth and higher wages, and better public education.
As the marchers head north, satellite events across America will echo their voices. These activities will share the social media hash tag #JusticeSummer. The march is expected to pick up supporters along the way and reach Washington, D.C., on or around September 16. The campaign concludes with a rally at the Lincoln Memorial, site of Dr. King’s legendary “I Have a Dream” speech.
In June, the Alabama Senate voted to rename the bridge from Edmund Pettus, a Confederate general, to the Journey to Freedom Bridge. Alabama’s House of Representatives has yet to address this measure.
Before setting off, the marchers gathered at the Boynton home in Selma. Brooks called it “the literal birthplace of the Civil Rights Act.”
The home of Sam and Amelia Boynton — a non-descript, yellow bungalow — was the civil-rights movement’s unlikely epicenter. Dr. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference strategized the Selma-to-Montgomery marches at the Boyntons’ home, and some of the ’65 Voting Rights Act was signed there.
Fifty years after that momentous occasion, the Boyntons’ abode has become dilapidated. Aside from a plaque that sits outside the house, nothing signifies the importance of the events and people associated with this abandoned structure. The Gateway Educational Foundation acquired the home and plans to transform it into a museum. August 18 will be Amelia Boynton’s 104th birthday. So there is understandable concern whether Sam Boynton’s widow ever will see her old home rebuilt.
“It’s somewhat ironic that you come to Selma to commemorate the anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, but not protect the place where it was given birth,” Brooks said.