Boynton to return home for project

Published 8:32 pm Saturday, August 7, 2010

SELMA — The writer Thomas Wolfe was wrong. You can go home again, and Amelia Boynton is proof of that.

Boynton will return to Selma on Wednesday, accompanied by the Gateway Educational Foundation, to open up a bank account at BankTrust of Selma to launch the renovation and preservation of the Historic Amelia and S.W. Boynton — Journey to Freedom Museum.

Ironically, Amelia Boynton opened her first banking account in 1928 at the People’s Bank, which later became BankTrust.

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John Chislom, BankTrust area president said, “BankTrust is  pleased to honor Dr. Boynton, not only because of the significance of her home and its transformation into a historical museum but also because of Dr. Boynton herself. She has been a loyal customer of this bank for more than 82 years and an important part of BankTrust’s and Selma’s history. It is important that we preserve our history for future generations and we congratulate both Dr. Boynton and the Gateway Education Fondation on this important event.”

The Boynton house at 1315 Lapsley St. was preserved as a historical landmark on Sept. 25, 2008, in Dallas County by the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage.

Mary Thomas, a spokeswoman for the Gateway Education Foundation, pointed out the significant place the house has in history as it played host to many distinguished visitors from across the country.

“In the late 1950s and early 60s, the Boynton home really became the chrysalis of the 1965 Voting Rights Act,” Thomas pointed out.

For example, when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested in Selma with Ralph Abernathy, Dick Gregory and scores of other civil rights leaders, Andrew Young and Amelia Boynton contacted members of Congress for their help.

“That very next day, 15 U.S. congressmen — among them were John Conyers, Gus Hawkins, Adam Clayton Power Jr. and other congressmen and several elected officials arrived in Selma, and upon Dr. King’s release, he, Boynton and those 15 congressional representatives would meet at the Boynton home,” Thomas explained.

Those congressmen were the architects of the first draft of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, according to Thomas.

The Atlanta-based Gateway Educational Foundation will lead efforts to convert the ouse into a museum. Thomas said it will house various historic documents, including the Martin Luther King Jr. Foundation Medal of Freedom, 12-15 statues of civil rights leaders, and wax and bronze artifacts of George Washing Carver, among other items.

Thomas said, “This museum will give young people an opportunity to get the full understanding of what their elders went through so they could have the freedom they have today.”