“We make the road by walking it.”
When I think of Voting Rights, I think of Martin Luther King Jr. and Viola Liuzzo.
I voted and when I did cast my Vote my mind raced back in time to when people of color could not VOTE.
The truth be told, it was not that long ago when I could not even walk into a cheap hamburger joint and order a meal without being insulted or worse have some mob beat the crap out of me because of the color of my skin.
On this most important election day, November 8th 2016 I believe we are on the brink of having our first woman president. Viola Liuzzo and countless other women white and black have fought long and hard for many, many years and on this day I feel the glass ceiling will be broken and women everywhere should pause a moment and remember Viola Liuzzo.
Viola Liuzzo was a white woman, a civil rights activist, housewife and mother of five children.
A very large part of Viola’s involvement in civil rights was due to the fact she had a very close relationship with a black-woman named Sara Evans. The two met in a grocery store where Viola worked as a cashier–the two women shared similar views and support for equal rights.
Viola Liuzzo like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. held the strong belief that one person can make a difference and she saw herself as that person.
One day Viola watched in horror the pictures of “Bloody Sunday” on television and then and there she decided to go to Selma. Alabama and offer herself for the cause of freedom for all people.
Viola packed a suitcase and told her husband to look after the children. Her husband first protested but Viola had made her decision; she replied to her husband:
“It’s everybody’s fight.”
Then she got in her car and drove over 1,000 miles to help Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the fight for social justice and freedom.
I do not want to focus on the ugly way in which Viola Liuzzo was killed, but she was violently killed by the KKK, who still exist and recently came out in support of Donald J. Trump for president.
In the case, the KKK members who killed Viola Liuzzo were all found not guilty despite overwhelming evidence against them. Viola Liuzzo died an American Hero on March 5th 1965; she was only 39 years old.
In the aftermath of her death, her best friend, Sara Evans, a black-woman would go on and become the permanent caretaker of Viola’s five children.
The tragic killing of this noble woman did prompt the federal government to pass the
Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Today, in recognition of her courageous personal sacrifice her name is inscribed on the
Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama.
In 1991 the women of, Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) placed a marker on the very spot where she was killed on Highway 80.
In Detroit there is a playground named in her honor–the playground has a few swings missing, and the sliding board shakes because of lost screws, and the baseball field is overgrown with wild grass, a broken down fence and lastly a very worn, but sturdy wooden sign which simply reads:
“Memories of our lives, of our works and our deeds will continue in others.”