Remembering Viola Liuzzo
Ultimate Courageous Love
Viola Liuzzo joined the fight for civil rights when it was at its most dangerous juncture – after the “Bloody Sunday” beatings of peaceful marchers on March 7 by specially deputized Alabama State Police (all white men). She was murdered three weeks later, on March 25, 1965 near Selma, Alabama, while driving home the teenaged civil-rights worker, Leroy Morton. She was shot twice in the head by four members of the Ku Klux Klan. (One of whom was a paid F.B.I. informant, provoking a campaign of disinformation attacking Viola Luizzo, mostly based upon her gender and choice to absent herself from her family and join the cause in Alabama.) Though not remembered nor celebrated as well as other heroes of the civil rights movement, it is surmised that the reaction of national shock at her death hastened passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
While remembering that fighting for a cause or belief is uplifting and often glorious, we must also remember that fighting is not without cost, and that the cost may be death.
Today we remember Viola Luizzo, a Unitarian Universalist whose life was taken in the fight to establish Civil Rights for all Americans. 49 years after her death, it is a fight that is not yet over. In the tradition of Unitarian Universalism, Viola Luizzo fought for justice with love and compassion. Her layperson’s ministry was the message of hope and determination she spread through her choices and actions.
As Unitarian Universalists we remember Viola Luizzo and honor her ministry when we stand up for equality and justice with love.
Read and share this spoken history about Viola Luizzo, adapted from a story by Jessica York, Director of the Faith Development Office, from the UUA religious education curriculum Tapestry of Faith.
Read the biography of Viola Liuzzo on Wikipedia to learn how she developed her social awareness and why she became an activist.
Watch this trailer of the documentary, “Home of the Brave”, about the murder – and subsequent character assassination – of Viola Luizzo by the Ku Klux Klan: