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Historic House of the Civil Rights Movement in Selma Is Rotting

The address was 1315 Lapsley Street in Selma, Al., a place of significant in the Civil Rights Movement from the 1940s through ’60s. The letter to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., inquiring about him coming to town to lead a voting rights demonstration, was crafted there. It was the epicenter of justice, a destination for leaders who were committed to the cause.

At this modest home, modern voting rights were written down into the words of the 1965 Voting Rights Law. The street name was changed to Boynton in August as a tribute to its former owners, Amelia Platts Boynton, who is 103 years old, and her late husband Samuel W. Boynton.

All this matters because this edifice of so much importance and history is crumbling. For all its stature, 1315 Boynton Street, featured in the recently released acclaimed film Selma, has not been preserved, and those who understand what the the place meant are not happy with it.

The renaming of the street name ceremony was tempered by the sad vision of the home where so much organizing occurred. Worse, there are no plans to do anything to about it. The notion of turning it into a museum has been scrapped.

Surely, Amelia Platts Boynton Robinson has to wonder about the plight of the home where she hosted so many people who looked to change the world. She was clubbed in the head by a policeman on the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River during the march in Selma, termed Bloody Sunday 50 years ago. She has one of the most prominent roles in the Selma film, a proud, inspiring portrait of strength—and also wisdom, as she counsels Coretta Scott King on the trials she faces as King’s wife. Boynton is played by actress Lorraine Toussaint, who is one of the stars of “Orange Is the New Black.”

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