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Dallas County Courthouse renamed for 2 Selma pioneers

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 5:10 PM CDT
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SELMA, Ala. (WSFA) - The City of Selma and the Dallas County Commission celebrated the renaming Tuesday of the Dallas County Courthouse. The courthouse annex is now the JL Chestnut Jr., and Bruce C. Boynton Judicial Building.

A naming ceremony was held to mark the occasion. While residents were celebrating the building’s renaming, it could also be described as a celebration of life for the two who left a large impact of the future for Black lawyers and people in Alabama.

The families, judges, and even former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman spoke about the men, calling them Selma’s greatest sons.

“He would not want this building to be named after him, ironically,” admitted Chestnut’s daughter, Gerald Chestnut Riberio. She said he never wanted anything to be named in his honor, “because he was working for the poor people, he said, and he never wanted anything.”

Chestnut was Selma’s first African American lawyer. He fought for voting rights and was a pioneer for the state’s future Black lawyers.

“It made me feel high, I was so happy, glad,” explained Betty Boynton of her husband’s name being added to the building.

Boynton, also an attorney, was one of the first student sit-inners, protesting racially segregated travel and restaurants. In doing so, he helped the passage of the 1964 Public Accommodations Act.

Boynton found out about the honor “two days before he died,” his wife said. “And by five hours before he died, it was official and he knew it.”

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