After witnessing more than 100 years of racism and some of the most grueling displays of police brutality the country has dished out, iconic civil rights activist Amelia Boynton Robinson Robinson warns that America likely will have to prepare for another century of the same thing.
A photograph of Robinson, who is 103, being beaten unconscious by police officers nearly 50 years ago has become an iconic image from the Civil Rights Movement.
In the midst of protests sweeping the nation as unarmed Black men are being killed by police officers, Robinson reminded today’s activists that the battle they are fighting will be a long one.
“I still see a lot of discrimination,” Robinson told the New York Post. “I don’t think it will be until another 100 years that people will be truly colorblind.”
It’s a reminder that the battles that are being fought in Ferguson, New York City and throughout America are only the beginning of a long war that has been raging against racism —a war that nearly cost Robinson her life.
On a day that later became known as Bloody Sunday, officers doused Robinson with pepper spray before beating her unconscious and leaving her in the street. The brutal attack happened during a march that she helped organized in 1965. The events in Alabama back then have been memorialized in the movie, “Selma,” by director Ava DuVernay that will be in theaters later this month.
After she discovered that only 1 percent of the Black population in Selma was registered to vote at the time, despite Blacks making up roughly 50 percent of the city’s population, Robinson decided she needed to do something to make a difference.
The march was the answer.
A group of more than 600 people gathered together for the demonstration before officers began mercilessly attacking the crowd.
After the police beat her, a stranger was photographed holding her limp body after carrying her off to safety.
Robinson still remembers that day and recalled the moments the police nearly robbed her of her life as she fought for equality.
She said she heard someone tell her to run but she didn’t understand why she would need to be running at a time like that.
That’s when she said an officer on horseback hit her on the back of her shoulders before taking another swing at the back of her neck.
“I lost consciousness,” she said.
The attack would have been enough to convince some people to lay low for a while and avoid rustling the feathers of any more authorities, but Robinson remained strong.
She continued to organize more major marches and eventually the Voting Rights Act was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
It was a major victory but also one that puts the battle for equality into perspective.
After multiple protests of hundreds of activists and nearly losing her life, Robinson was given a rather empty promise that the right for Blacks to vote would no longer be compromised—a basic right that should have never been taken away from anyone based on the color of their skin.
As the battle against racist institutions that have systematically robbed the Black community of rights, opportunities and peace of mind continues to rage on today, the Black community has to be prepared for the long haul.