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At 103, Selma Marcher Shows Us All How to Live

In Selma, President Obama greets former foot soldier Amelia Boynton Robinson.
The White House

The “Bloody Sunday” 50th anniversary march was an event that inspired people across America to stand for justice wherever injustice prevails. In that regard, among the greatest inspirations at the March 7 commemoration was 103-year-old Amelia Boynton Robinson, a foot soldier who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Who would have thought that this heroine, knocked unconscious by the Alabama State Police during the original Bloody Sunday protest, would return 50 years later, marching in a wheelchair alongside Barack Obama, America’s first Black president? This was not only a moment of victory, but a moment of triumph and glory!

It was also something else. Mrs. Robinson inspired all of us to remain hopeful and full of vision despite events and hardships that we occasionally suffer.

Of course, her situation was particularly hurtful. To have a police officer — sworn to protect — attack her mercilessly as she marched for justice is something that most of us have not and will never experience.

This is all the more reason that when we face difficult moments in our lives, we remember to do what she did — believe anyway. She not only returned for the second two Selma marches, but marched a fourth time at the recent triumphant commemoration.

That fourth time was amazingly encouraging for yet another reason. Mrs. Robinson, who has worked as a voter registration activist, a school teacher, a politician and home demonstration agent for the Department of Agriculture, has shown us that at any age we still have a purpose. When she hosted a viewing of the movie, Selma, in her Alabama home late last year, she was not only looking back at history, but sharing it for the future.

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The screams and other blood-curdling sounds of that day are distant memories. But as Mrs. Robinson and so many others have said, there are many battles yet to be won. And she is still fighting by never giving up and allowing her life to be used continually, even at 103.

AARP helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for and equips Americans 50 and older to live their best lives. Discover all the ways AARP can help you, your family and your community at AARP Black Community.

Photo: White House Photo by Pete Souza (Public Domain)

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