Skip to Content

Dr. Bertha Boykin-Todd reflects on her life of social justice work ahead of receiving legacy award

A Lifetime of Service: Dr. Bertha Boykin-Todd’s Inspiring Journey at 95

At the venerable age of 95, Dr. Bertha Boykin-Todd’s life reflects a tapestry of achievements woven through her unwavering commitment to education and social justice. Recently celebrated for her 75-year sorority affiliation and soon to be honored with the Wilmington Rotary Club’s first-ever Legacy Award, Dr. Boykin-Todd’s impact on the Wilmington community is profound. Her story is one of relentless pursuit of progress, not only in her own life but in the lives of those around her.

Unveiling the Rich Tapestry of Dr. Bertha Boykin-Todd’s Dedication to Progress and Unity

Celebrating a Milestone Birthday and Sorority Membership

As the spring blossoms heralded the arrival of new beginnings, Dr. Boykin-Todd embraced her 95th year with grace and poise. This significant milestone was further embellished by the recognition she received from Alpha Kappa Alpha, a sorority to which she has devoted an impressive three-quarters of a century. Her longstanding commitment to the sisterhood is a testament to her dedication to fostering bonds and empowering women.

Her sorority’s acknowledgment as a ‘diamond member’ is not merely a nod to her longevity but a celebration of her enduring influence within the organization. The distinction is a rare honor, reflecting the depth of her engagement and the breadth of her impact over the years.

The Inaugural Legacy Award by Wilmington Rotary Club

In the coming weeks, the Wilmington Rotary Club will bestow upon Dr. Boykin-Todd a singular honor: the first-ever Legacy Award. This accolade is a reflection of her substantial contributions to the community, a surreal yet fitting acknowledgment of her life’s work. The award symbolizes the indelible mark she has left on the city of Wilmington, a mark characterized by her tireless activism and educational leadership.

Dr. Boykin-Todd’s response to this honor is one of profound gratitude and humility. She regards the recognition not as a personal triumph but as a collective milestone for the community she has served so passionately.

A Storied Career in Education and Community Activism

Dr. Boykin-Todd’s legacy in Wilmington began in 1952 when she relocated from Sampson County. Her career as an educator at Williston and Hoggard High Schools is well-documented, but it is her activism that truly sets her apart. She has been a catalyst for change, driven by a deep-seated belief in the power of education and the necessity of civic engagement.

Her efforts have not only shaped the educational landscape but also addressed historical injustices. Dr. Boykin-Todd’s advocacy has been instrumental in overturning wrongful convictions and fostering a community-wide understanding of the 1898 massacre. Her approach to the past is not to dwell on it but to learn from it and move forward collectively.

Significant Contributions to Historical Reconciliation

Reflecting on her myriad achievements, Dr. Boykin-Todd identifies her work on the 1898 massacre as a pivotal moment in her journey. Her dedication to uncovering the truth and establishing a memorial has been a cornerstone of her efforts to heal historical wounds. She has been a beacon of hope, guiding the community towards a more inclusive and honest dialogue about its past.

Her commitment to historical awareness extends beyond mere acknowledgment. Dr. Boykin-Todd has been a driving force in the pursuit of justice and reconciliation, ensuring that the lessons of history are not forgotten but serve as a foundation for a more equitable future.

Literary Works and the Restless Journey

Dr. Boykin-Todd’s ‘restless journey’ is more than a personal narrative; it is a chronicle of her relentless pursuit of social justice. Her decision to encapsulate her experiences in writing has resulted in a series of books that offer invaluable insights into her life’s work. Her latest publication, ‘Reflections on a Massacre and a Coup,’ adds a new dimension to the historical discourse with personal stories from descendants of those affected by the events.

While she may have closed the chapter on her role as an author, her literary contributions continue to resonate, offering a rich resource for understanding and reflection.

Passing the Torch: From Leadership to Being a Resource

As she enters a new phase of her life, Dr. Boykin-Todd is shifting her focus from leading initiatives to serving as a resource for others. Her wealth of knowledge and experience is a treasure trove for the next generation of leaders and activists. She is poised to share her stories and insights, starting with a panel discussion at UNCW about the 1898 massacre, slated for July.

Her transition from active leadership to mentorship is a natural progression in her lifelong commitment to fostering growth and understanding within her community.

The Power of Reading and Continuous Learning

Dr. Boykin-Todd’s passion for reading is undiminished by time. She firmly believes that the act of reading is rejuvenating, keeping her mind sharp and her spirit youthful. Her voracious appetite for knowledge is a cornerstone of her philosophy that learning is a lifelong endeavor.

She often recalls the wisdom imparted to her in high school: the notion that one is never too old to learn. This belief has been a guiding principle throughout her life, inspiring her to embrace new challenges and continuously expand her horizons.