Richard Charles Boone was born on July 7, 1937, in Calhoun, Alabama. After receiving his master's degree in theology at Phillip’s Theological Seminary, Boone became a reverend and joined the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In 1965, Boone led a group of 800 students to Montgomery, Alabama, to join Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and 25,000 civil rights marchers. Afterward, he spent his life continuing his fight for civil rights in the South. Boone died on October 14, 2013.
Early Years and Education
Richard C. Boone was born on July 7, 1937, in Calhoun, Alabama. He attended Lab High at Alabama State Teachers’ College and joined the Air Force at age 16. Boone earned his GED and enrolled at Alabama State University, majoring in political science and history. After graduation, Boone moved on to Phillip’s Theological Seminary in Atlanta, where he received a master’s degree in theology.
1965 Selma to Montgomery March
Now a reverend, Boone became the field secretary for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), a faith-based African-American civil rights organization. The American Civil Rights Movement was growing as the 1960s advanced, and on March 24, 1965, Boone led a group of 800 students from Alabama State University to Montgomery to join 25,000 marchers who had completed their five-day protest march from Selma.
The group was soon on the steps of the Alabama state capitol, where the protests continued, focusing on the black right to vote. With Martin Luther King Jr. at the forefront, the march highlighted racial injustice across the South, and the chorus of voices helped get the Voting Rights Act passed that same year.
Life after Selma
Boone’s civil rights efforts didn’t end with the Selma march, and he fought on behalf of African-American rights, mostly at the local level, for the rest of his life. He founded the Alabama Action Committee and focused its efforts in Montgomery, where he staged protests against local businesses, demanding that blacks be integrated into the workforce.
Boone took his activism with him into leadership positions at many congregations as well, such as New Birth Missionary Baptist Church and St. Paul United Methodist Church. Boone also served as a chaplain in the U.S. Army from 1979 to 1990, a post that took him around the country and to Europe.
Boone married Mary Gambles Boone in August 1973. He had six children - Richard, Jr. Felicia, Annamakeba, Takiyah, Tahirah, and Daoud. He died from cancer on October 14, 2013 at age 76. In early 2015, Alabama governor Robert Bentley signed a resolution that recognized Boone’s civil rights efforts by naming a stretch of the Selma to Montgomery Historical Trail "Richard C. Boone Boulevard."
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