Amelia and Samuel Boynton House, 1315 Lapsley Street, Selma, Dallas County, c.1935 (Places in Peril 2014)
The tidy bungalow that was the home of stalwart Selma civil rights foot soldiers Amelia and Samuel Boynton is abandoned today. The Boyntons helped revive the Dallas County Voters League (DCVL) in the 1940s. In the two decades before Colia and Bernard Lafayette of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) came to live with them in the 1960s, the Boyntons had been part of a small group that had begun to intensify efforts to increase black voter registration throughout the Black Belt. In 1964, the DCVL and SNCC along with Rev. F.D. Reese and other local leaders met in the Boynton House and issued an invitation to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. of the Southern Christian Leadership Council (SCLC) to visit Selma in support of black voter registration. He arrived in January 1965 bringing national attention to the Voting Rights movement already underway. After being attacked on their first attempt, these activists along with thousands of others from all over the nation led a successful Selma to Montgomery March two months later, prompting President Lyndon Johnson and Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The seeds of that legislation and the subsequent transformation of American democracy were nurtured and took root in the Boynton House.
Today, on the eve of the Golden Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery March, the Boynton House sits vacant and derelict. Its condition has deteriorated since 2008, when it first appeared on the Places In Peril list. It was subsequently purchased by its current owners, Gateway Educational Foundation, but they have faced severe challenges in attracting potential partners to assist in the preservation of the house. This historic place holds international significance as a symbol of American democracy. The Boynton House desperately needs responsible stewards to weatherproof the house, protect it from vandals, and develop and fund a preservation or restoration plan this year so that its significant history can be interpreted during the Golden Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery March in 2015.
Alabama's Endangered Historic Landmarks
Each year since 1994, Alabama Heritage has highlighted threatened historic sites throughout Alabama. The “Places in Peril” list has identified more than 215 imperiled historic resources throughout the state, and is compiled by the Alabama Historical Commission and the Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation. The locations highlight the results of deferred maintenance, perceived obsolescence, development pressures, and lack of funding—forces that now more than ever threaten our cultural legacy. But awareness is a powerful force, too, and can cultivate a renewed determination to be responsible stewards of our heritage. For more information, visit the AHC or the ATHP websites. Alabama Heritage is proud to bring to you a selection of the places designated as perilous. Please keep your comments to information relevant to the featured place in peril. Alabama Heritage reserves the right to delete any comment that we deem inappropriate.