Viola Gregg Liuzzo, 40

Selma, Alabama
March 21, 1965

Agencies: Federal Bureau of Investigation - FBI

Cause of death: Shooting

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Last updated: about 4 years ago


Liuzzo is among the 40 martyrs of the Civil Rights movement honored in the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, and has the sad distinction of being the only white woman to be murdered during the movement. A Detroit wife and mother to five, Liuzzo was involved in civil rights as a member of the Detroit chapter of the NAACP. She went to Alabama to take part in the march from Selma to Montgomery, and helped out by driving supporters between the two cities.

On the evening of March 21, 1965, she was driving a black teenager named Leroy Moton—a young member of the SCLC—to Selma when a car pulled alongside them on Highway 80. A passenger in the car shot into Liuzzo’s car, killing her. Moton survived by playing dead. Over 300 people attended her funeral, including Dr. King, US Attorney Lawrence Gubow, Jimmy Hoffa, and the United Automobile Workers Union President. Her death prompted President Johnson to launch an investigation into the KKK.

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