Forty- six years ago on this very date March 7th, Viola Liuzzo watched in disbelief and horror at the images on her television set of the aborted civil rights march at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. This aborted march is more formerly known as ” Bloody Sunday” in Selma. The civil rights marchers where met by state troopers who used billy clubs and tear gas to break up the March. The March was spurred by the death African American “Jimmy Lee Jackson” in February of that year in 1965. The demonstration for voting rights at the Marion, Alabama courthouse turned very ugly and tyrannical. State troopers clubbed marchers and beat them by clubbing them, whipping them, fracturing bones, gashing and opening heads. Viola Luzzio witnessed this horrific event where seventeen people were hospitalized with Jimmy Lee Jackson later dying that evening.
Viola Liuzzo was so outraged and alarmed at the images she had witnessed on her television screen that it spurred her to join the Civil Rights March at Wayne State. She then went on with the protesters to Selma and had discussed with her husband that " The civil rights movement was everyone's fight"! The last march in Selma started March 21 1965 and ended five days later on March 25, 1965. The Marchers had made it without incident because they were protected by 2000 soldiers, 1,900 members of the Alabama National Guard under Federal command, and FBI agents and Federal Marshals. unlike the the two other attempts by civil rights marchers. ( There where two other Selma Marches, one was bloody Sunday)
After the march Viola Liuzzo stayed to further help in the civil rights movement by driving marchers home. She and Leroy Moton dropped off some of the marchers in Selma and headed back to Montgomery. During their travel they ran into another car of four Ku Klux Klan members. They started chasing Liuzzo and Moton. Viola Liuzzo tried to outrun the clansmen, however, the so called good old boys of Collie Wilkins, William Eaton, Eugene Thomas and FBI informant Gary Rowe caught up with Ms Liuzzo and Moton and opened fire. The KKK murderers shot directly at Viola Luzzio hitting her in the head twice. Viola Luzzio died that day on March 25, 1965 for believing in justice and equality for all people. Dr Martin Luther King Jr himself attended Viola Liuzzo's funeral along with other political or otherwise dignitaries such as James Farmer, Jimmy Hoffa,
Walter Reuther, the NAACP etc
Viola Liuzzo had the great gift of believing in justice, equality and human rights, she marched and fought for, “the Civil Rights Movement”. Her life was taken from her for being a person of justice!
Ms Liuzzo was a mother of five at the time of her murder by the Ku Klux Klan.
It is widely argued that the Viola Liuzzo's murder was one of the reasons that encouraged " Congress" to pass the "voting rights act"outlawing discriminatory voting practices. The voting rights act is a " Landmark Civil Rights Legislation". I can't think of a better quote then the one from "Anthony Liuzzo, "Viola's husband " My wife died for a sacred battle, the rights of humanity. She had one
concern and only one in mind. She took a quote from Abraham Lincoln that all men are created equal and that's the way she believed."
Thank-you Ms Viola Liuzzo for your work and dedication in the Civil Rights Movement. Your children where quoted as saying that your work in the Civil Rights Movement would have been something that naturally flowed from you because you felt everything in human suffering. Today and everyday, I honor Civil Rights Movement Activist "Viola Gregg Liuzzo"; who dedicated herself without a fleeting thought of the possible repercussions for a humanitarian and human rights cause, that she so greatly believed in and because of her belief, her life was terminated by cowards.