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Viola Liuzzo

Viola Liuzzo (1925-1965)

Martyr for Justice

During Black History Month 2014, the Center for the Church and the Black Experience is honoring faithful Black women freedom fighters. Today we honor Viola Liuzzo.

Viola LiuzzoMrs. Viola Liuzzo was a Detriot housewife and medical technician who became immersed as an undergrad in the Civil Rights Movement through her church. A Unitarian Universalist, she worked for education and economic justice and gave her life for the cause of civil rights. Mrs. Liuzzo was one of few Whites who joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Detroit chapter (NAACP: the oldest and largest African-American civil rights organization).  As an active NAACP member in her local chapter, she was horrified at the violence she saw inflicted upon black protesters on television, so when she heard of a four-day, 54-mile walk from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., to support voting rights, she packed a bag. Before leaving Mrs. Luizzo told her husband before departing for Selma: "It's everybody's fight."

Mrs. Liuzzo joined the movement's carpool system soon after arriving in Selma. The 39 year-old mother of five was shot to death while giving a ride to a 19-year-old black man, Leroy Moton who escaped with injuries.

Her husband Jim Liuzzo said to then President Lyndon Johnson: “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."

Sources:
Photo: Michigan Women’s Historical Center and Hall of Fame http://tinyurl.com/moog2h3
http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/28/politics/civil-rights-viola-liuzzo (Accessed 12/26/13)
http://www25.uua.org/uuhs/duub/articles/violaliuzzo.html (Accessed 12/26/13)
http://civilrightsteaching.org/about/handouts-sample-lessons/womens-work-an-untold-story-of-the-civil-rights-movement/  (Accessed 12/26/13)

Compiled by Beverly Moore

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