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John Hope Franklin memorial, civil rights wax museum, mulitracial americans

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Amelia Boynton meets President Lyndon Johnson after the signing of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. (Source: Amelia Boynton)

Civil Rights Wax Museum Planned in Selma

Plans to erect a civil rights wax museum in the historic city of Selma, Alabama, were announced Thursday.

The Atlanta-based Gateway Educational Foundation Inc, is spearheading efforts to convert the former home of Amelia and Samuel W. Boynton, a meeting ground for activists planning in the 1950s and 1960s, into a the museum with 12 to 15 statues of civil rights leaders.

“I have been working all of my life for my people, this museum is going to allow people to see more of what my husband and I have done in our lives,” said Amelia, who is 104. “This is an opportunity for [young people] to get an understanding of what their elders went through so they could have the freedoms they have today.”

The couple played an integral role in the black suffrage effort helping to plan and drum up support for protests in Selma. After Samuel’s death from complications due to a stroke in 1963, Amelia grew more ardent in her voting rights efforts. In 1964 she entered the race for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Congress, making her the first black woman from Alabama to seek a seat in Congress and the first woman to run on the state’s Democratic ticket.

“The Boyntons’ were tireless advocates, extending their home for uses far beyond the typical stayover,” said Genise Kemp-Brown, co-founder of Gateway. “Meetings held at their home ultimately led to passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, giving all African-Americans the right to vote.”

The home was recently listed on the Alabama Historic Register and has served as a reststop for some of the most notable leaders of the 20th century including Martin Luther King Jr., George Washington Carver, and Sen. Robert Kennedy. The museum will join the Brown Chapel, and Selma University among the landmarks marking Selma’s contribution to African-American history and culture.

Plans to convert the home will begin in July, and the museum is scheduled to open to the public in February 2011.

–Renita Burns

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