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Obama Meets With 105-Year-Old Amelia Boynton Before SOTU

Boynton attends the 2011 Trustees Emmy Award for Lifetime Achievement dinner on Feb. 25, 2011, in New York City. (Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images File Photo)
Boynton attends the 2011 Trustees Emmy Award for Lifetime Achievement dinner on Feb. 25, 2011, in New York City. (Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images File Photo)

Shortly before delivering the State of the Union address, President Barack Obama met briefly with 105 year-old civil rights figure Amelia Boynton in a holding room at the Capitol.  

Boynton is among those still alive from Bloody Sunday. The 50th anniversary of the voting rights march in Selma, Ala., comes in March, and the White House has said Obama is planning to make the trip for a ceremony recognizing the event, during which Georgia Rep. John Lewis, then a teenager, was among those attacked by authorities. “I think that for me the most poignant moment was when she got to meet with the president before he spoke, and it was awesome. Really awesome,” Rep. Terri Sewell said. “For me, I think she sums up the movement. Her perseverance, her bravery, her courage, and she was so excited.”  

Sewell said Boynton previously met Obama in 2007, when he was a candidate for president. The Alabama Democrat invited Boynton to be her State of the Union guest this year, but it was not clear she whether would be able to make the journey.  

“We didn’t find out until the eleventh hour because … her medical team had to OK her leaving the state of Alabama,” Sewell said.  

“She corrected me,” about her age, Sewell said of Boynton, who had been reported to be 103. “Perhaps the funniest thing she said, she said to [Attorney General] Eric Holder. She said people always talk about, ‘I stand on the shoulders of people like you. Get off my shoulders, do your own work.'”  

“The point is that she traveled a very long way, and it was totally worth it to see her expression on her face and the tears coming down her face when she met the president,” Sewell said. “Before we came down to the Capitol, we met in John Lewis’s office for 30 minutes, and you know they’re fast old friends. And it was awesome … to see that meeting and their talking.  

“For her to make the journey to Washington, D.C., for the State of the Union and for her to get the chance to meet the president, and for him to say, ‘I am here because of you,’ and her tears, I mean it was special moment,” Sewell added.  


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