Viola Liuzzo was a Unitarian Universalist civil rights activist, a mother of five, and the only white woman to be killed while working in the civil rights movement. She grew up poor in segregated Tennessee, and saw firsthand the injustice of racism in the segregated South. Her family moved to Detroit, where she was deeply affected by the racial violence and rioting that broke out in the city in the 1940s. She helped organize protests in Detroit, joined the NAACP, and went to civil rights conferences. After seeing images of “Bloody Sunday,” Ms. Liuzzo heeded Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s call for people of faith to come to Selma to help. She left her children with family and drove to Alabama, where she volunteered with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, greeting, recruiting, and transporting marchers and volunteers in her Oldsmobile. She took part in the third march from Selma to Montgomery. After the march, she and 19-year-old Leroy Moton, who was Black, were shuttling volunteers and marchers back home when they stopped for gas. They were harassed and, back on Route 80, nearly forced off the road. On the way back to Selma, they were overtaken by a car full of four Klansmen, including FBI informant Gary Rowe. Three of the men shot her in the head, killing her instantly. She died March 25, 1965.
Sanguine Fromage, WERU radio personality since 2005, current host of UpFront Soul, former host of The Nightfly, Off the Wall, Enjoy Yourself, and Sound Travels.
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