They became iconic images of the civil rights movement: A middle-aged black woman tear-gassed and beaten and slumped unconscious on the side of the road. A white Alabama state trooper, billy club in hand, stands above her. In another photo, a young man cradles her body in his arms.
Amelia Boynton Robinson, the woman in those photos, had helped galvanize hundreds of activists to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge on March 7, 1965 ”” part of a march from Selma to Montgomery to demand their civil rights. Helmeted law enforcement officers pummeled the peaceful demonstrators on what became known as “Bloody Sunday.”
“They came with horses,” Boynton Robinson recalled. “They came with nightsticks.”