“White Mother Slain” Viola Liuzzo 1965

Civil Rights, Newspapers

Viola Liuzzo is the only white female martyr of the American Civil Rights Movement. In March of 1965, Liuzzo heeded the call of Martin Luther King Jr. and traveled from Detroit, Michigan, to Selma, Alabama, in the wake of the Bloody Sunday attempt at marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Liuzzo participated in the successful Selma to Montgomery marches and helped with coordination and logistics. At the age of 39, while driving back from a trip shuttling fellow activists to the Montgomery airport, she was fatally hit by shots fired from a pursuing car containing Ku Klux Klan (KKK) members Collie Wilkins, William Eaton, Eugene Thomas, and Gary Thomas Rowe, the latter of whom was actually an undercover informant working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). In addition

to other honors, Liuzzo’s name is today inscribed on the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama, created by Maya Lin.