Bruce Boynton, whose refusal to move from the white section of a segregated Virginia bus station inspired the Freedom Riders movement, died of cancer Monday. He was 83. An Alabama native, Boynton was a law student at Howard University headed home for the holidays in 1958 when his bus pulled into Richmond. He ordered a cheeseburger and a cup of hot tea, and was told by the manager to leave. His show of defiance would lead to a 1960 Supreme Court case, Boynton v. Virginia, where future Justice Thurgood Marshall successfully argued that racial discrimination on public transport was illegal. The next year, the Freedom Riders movement was born, as Black and white students across the South rode buses to determine if the ruling was being followed. Boynton, himself the son of civil rights icon Amelia Boynton Robinson, would go on to become a civil rights attorney himself. The Dallas County Courthouse Annex in Selma—Boynton’s hometown—was scheduled to be named after him and fellow civil rights activist J.L. Chestnut the same days as Boynton’s death. “All he wanted was a cheeseburger, and he changed the course of history,” U.S District Judge Myron Thompson told the AP.
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