National Constitution CenterCenturies of Citizenship: A Constitutional Timeline Exhibit
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1955-1969: We demand liberty and justice for all

March 25, 1965
Viola Liuzzo shot and killed after taking part in Selma march

Viola Liuzzo with her children

Viola Liuzzo (1925-1965)

She Died Fighting For Civil Rights

Viola Fauver Liuzzo belonged to the NAACP at the height of the civil rights movement. In 1965, she marched with Martin Luther King from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, to protest discrimination. Afterwards, Liuzzo and her black co-worker, Leroy Merton, drove marchers to the airport. On one trip, they were spotted by four Ku Klux Klansmen who guessed that a white woman and a black man traveling together were civil rights activists. The Klansmen followed the pair and shot them. Liuzzo died instantly. Merton survived.

The Klansmen were arrested, tried, and acquitted by an all-white Alabama jury. President Johnson ordered them re-tried under federal law, for conspiring to deprive Liuzzo of her civil rights. They were convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

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