In Memorium of
Atty. Bruce Boynton
Bruce Carver Boynton was born in Selma, Alabama to Samuel Boynton and Amelia Platts Boynton on June 19, 1937. He was named after his Godfather, George Washington Carver. He graduated from R. B. Hudson High School at the age of fourteen, Fisk University at 18 and Howard University Law School at 21. ln his senior year of law, on December 18, 1958, he became the first of the student ``sit-inners" who protested racially segregated travel and lunch counter facilities. He sought to be served at the Trailway Bus Station's whites-only lunch counter in Richmond, Virginia on his way to Selma for Christmas vacation. He was arrested for trespass. After being convicted and fined $10.00, he successfully appealed his case to the United States Supreme Court in Boynton v. Virginia. This was the last case argued by Thurgood Marshall before he became United States Solicitor, eventually becoming the first Black U.S. Supreme Court Justice. BIacks usually went to court to seek their civil rights but the conduct of Boynton seeking service was a confrontation of the problem at the source of the problem. This case spawned the Freedom Riders, Lunch Counter Sit-ins and demonstrations by BIacks to air their grievances that continues today. These events led to the passage of the 1964 Public Accommodation Act.
As a direct consequence of his Virginia arrest, Boynton license to practice law was held up for six years by the Alabama State Bar while it supposedly investigated the circumstances of his arrest in Virginia. As a result he began his practice in Chattanooga, Tennessee where he caused the racial desegregation of that city two years before Congress passed the 1964 Public Accommodation Act. He received his license to practice law in the state of Alabama in 1965. He served as Alabama's first Black special prosecutor when he prosecuted the Mayor of Beatrice, Alabama for attacking a BIack man. He also worked with his mother, Mrs. Amelia Boynton Robinson, to receive approval by the United States Housing and Urban Renewal Department (HUD) of their 5 million dollar housing subdivision only to have the project frozen by an executive order of President Richard Nixon. He served as the first and only Black County Attorney in Selma. He and his mother participated in a documentary with James Baldwin ten years after the passage of the Voting Rights Act and he was featured on the nationally televised show, Black Journal, for his defense of a young Black man accused of killing two white men. His defense was not guilty by reason of insanity caused by white racism.
While practicing in Selma, Atty. Boynton was beaten by Wilcox county sheriff Lummie Jenkins and his Chief Deputy and thereafter he had body guards made up of SNCC workers. He successfully represented Stokely Carmichael who, along with SNCC workers, were allegedly engaged in a shoot-out with law enforcement officials in Prattville, AL. Receiving little support in the BIack community he left Selma and did a limited practiced in Washington, D.C. However, years later, he returned to Selma and currently defends the wrongfully accused in criminal matters and advocates for their just treatment in civil matters, including adequate healthcare while in prison.