Selma Courthouse Annex Named For Civil Rights Pioneers

SELMA, Ala. (AP) — The courthouse annex in Alabama's Dallas County now bears the name of two prominent African-American attorneys and civil rights figures from the community — J.L. Chestnut and Bruce Boynton.

News outlets report that a dedication ceremony was held Tuesday for the renamed Dallas Courthouse Annex.

Chestnut was a prominent civil rights attorney. A Selma native who got his law degree at Howard University, Chestnut returned to his hometown in 1958 and became a key legal figure in the civil rights battles in Selma. His work included helping activists who arrived in Selma in response to the “Bloody Sunday” beatings that eventually led to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Boynton was a civil rights pioneer and attorney who inspired the landmark “Freedom Rides” of 1961. He was arrested 60 years ago for entering the white part of a racially segregated bus station in Virginia and launching a chain reaction that ultimately helped to bring about the abolition of Jim Crow laws in the South.

Boynton contested his conviction, and his appeal resulted in a U.S. Supreme Court decision that prohibited bus station segregation and helped inspire the “Freedom Rides."

Chestnut died in 2008 and Boynton died last year.

“Boynton and Chestnut are two legends that deserve this honor,” District Attorney Michael Jackson said, according to the The Selma Times-Journal.