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Bruce Boynton, plaintiff in major civil rights case, dies at 83

Bruce Carver Boynton – his middle name was in honor of his godfather, his parents’ friend George Washington Carver – was born in Selma on June 19, 1937. His mother, Amelia (Platts) Boynton, was a speaker, author and rights activist civics, and his father, Samuel, was a county extension agent.

“I grew up watching my parents work hard to get black people to vote,” he told The Advertiser in 2015. “My dad started doing this as early as 1929, and my mom wasn’t far away. behind him.

His father died in 1963. His mother, remarried, died in 2015 at the age of 104.

Mr. Boynton grew up in Selma and graduated from RB Hudson High School there when he was just 14. Four years later, he earned an undergraduate degree from Fisk University in Nashville.

He was at Howard University Law School in Washington when he made the fateful bus ride back to Alabama in 1958. The case revolved around a relatively limited question: whether the restaurant at the bus terminal was an extension of the bus line, Trailways, and therefore whether it was, like the bus, subject to the provisions of the Interstate Commerce Act, which prohibited discrimination in interstate public transport. The Supreme Court, overturning the Virginia Supreme Court, ruled that was the case and ruled 7-2 in favor of Mr Boynton.

The case, although he won it, posed problems for Mr. Boynton for a few years. After graduating from Howard Law at age 21, shortly after the incident in Richmond, the Alabama Bar denied him a law license for six years while he supposedly investigated the circumstances. of the case.

As a result, he began his law practice in Chattanooga, Tennessee, working on civil rights issues. He was eventually called to the Alabama Bar in 1965 and practiced in Selma for several years before establishing a practice in Washington. He later returned to practice in Selma again.

Mr. Boynton married Alice Cutler in 1973; she died in 2001. Besides his daughter Carver, of this marriage he is survived by his second wife, Betty Strong Boynton, whom he married in 2008; another daughter, Aimee Emma Meredith, from a relationship with Charlye Frances Nolan; her stepchildren Valerie, Mark and Jackie Simmons and James, Annie Kate, Clarence and Marco Strong; two cousins ​​who were his foster siblings, Germain Bowser and Sharon Seay; and four grandchildren.