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Civil Rights Pioneer Honored at ALMD

May 18, 2018 - 00:00

“I’d like a cheeseburger and tea,” he said.

A little over 60 years ago, a black man was arrested for entering the white section of an interstate bus station in Virginia. Bruce Carver Boynton, a Howard University law student traveling home on Christmas holiday to Alabama, started a chain reaction that helped stop Jim Crow laws in the South.

Boynton is himself largely unknown. The stories of his attorney (Thurgood Marshall, the first black U.S. Supreme Court Justice) and Rosa Parks are in our history books. His mother, Amelia Boynton Robinson, was beaten in 1965 while demonstrating for voting rights – and was herself honored by President Barack Obama 50 years later, and was a special guest of First Lady Michelle Obama at the 2015 State of the Union address. Even his namesake (and godfather) George Washington Carver, is well known to many in America. Mr. Bruce Boynton remains largely anonymous.

On May 19, 2018 the Friends of the Freedom Riders hosted in the Frank M. Johnson Jr Courthouse a ceremony honoring Mr. Boynton. U.S. District Judge Myron H. Thompson says it’s time Boynton was honored. Boynton, an unheralded pioneer of the civil rights movement, was arrested for sitting in the whites-only section of a bus station restaurant in 1958. His conviction and appeal resulted in an important Supreme Court Decision (Boynton v. Virginia, 364 U.S. 454 (1960)), and inspired the Freedom Rides movement of 1961.

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Judge Reference

Honorable Myron H. Thompson Honorable W. Keith Watkins