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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Viola Liuzzo's Daughter Speaks Out on Racism in the Campaign

This piece is by the daughter of Viola Liuzzo. Viola Liuzzo was a Detroit area housewife and mother of five whose best friend was her African American housekeeper. In defense of the dignity of her friend, she went to Selma to participate in the Selma voter registration campaign. She moved to Selma and lived in the public housing across the street from Brown Chapel. Brown Chapel was the staging area for the struggle.

As an aside, the picture that is often shown of of Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. shaking hands was taken when they met in Brown Chapel during this campaign.

By the time of the Selma campaign, the SNCC workers had become very disillusioned with non-violence in the face of whites not practicing non-violence. The Klan, in complicity with Southern law enforcement, were carrying out murders with impugnity.

Also winter of 1965, there was a growing view in SNCC that Malcolm's message of black self-determination was an important one. As a consequence, it was SNCC that invited Malcolm to the Selma struggle. Within weeks of this connection Malcolm was assassinated.

While these were the dynamics within the Selma campaign, few knew of the commitment of Viola Liuzzo commitment of this mother of five to the struggle. She became a martyr of the movement when she, being a white American, was killed driving marchers back to Selma from Montgomery. The deaths of blacks, versus that of whites, were generally dismissed. For whites on the other hand, white deaths got more coverage. The Liuzzo death was big. These events provide such power to the words of Sally Liuzzo, her daughter should not be dismissed a politics. RGN

Original Content at Sally Liuzzo
October 12, 2008

Race in the 2008 Election

By Sally Liuzzo-Prado

The racial hatred being promoted by Sarah Palin and the McCain campaign deserves comment. I have experienced this type of hatred on a very personal level. I am the youngest daughter of Viola Gregg Liuzzo, who was murdered by the KKK AND a paid FBI informant on March 25th, 1965 while participating in the Selma to Montgomery voting rights march.

I find it appalling that someone who wants to lead our country would lower themselves to incite racial violence in an attempt to win a political campaign. Racism has been an ugly and shameful part of our country's history. We need to work together to heal the wounds racism has caused--not bring us backwards in our fight.

I also find it appalling that people in the McCain campaign are spreading rumors insinuating Barack Obama is of Arab decent, as if that in itself is a crime. Being from Detroit Michigan, I grew up in an area with a huge Arabic population. The Arab Americans that I have had contact with are decent people who love this country. They were devastated by the events of 09-11-2001 as proud Arab Americans. It is not right to condemn an entire group of people due to the actions of a few.

I saw Barack for the first time two or three years ago while he was promoting his book. This was long before his campaign for the presidency was announced. I remember thinking, "Who is this man? He is amazing!" There are not enough words to express how I feel about both Barack and Michelle Obama. If anyone can help heal race relations in this country, they can.

This campaign has been an emotional roller coaster for me. It has validated for me everything that my mother taught me. Although it has been 43 years since her death, the pain is still there. I still struggle with trying to keep my emotions under control. My mother's murder has never gotten much easier for me to talk about. As much as I miss her, I would not change a thing. I am so proud of her and the sacrifice she made for her fellow man. She taught me more in the six short years we were together, than many parents teach their children in a lifetime. She taught me to choose my friends by their character, not by their appearance or status. I have three children, my 19 year old twin daughters were born the same day my mother was killed, March 25th, twenty-four years later. She left a legacy that my family is passing on to our children. Hopefully in some small way, we can make this planet a better place for all of us.

Let us promote positive race relations instead of hate speech, especially in a presidential campaign.

Authors Bio: My name is Sally Liuzzo-Prado. I am the youngest daughter of Viola Gregg Liuzzo who was a civil rights worker murdered by the KKK and a paid FBI informant in 1965. My mother was participating in the historic Selma to Montgomery voting rights march and was ambushed by the Klan and shot in the head. I am single and live on the west coast. I am the mother of three wonderful adult children.



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MrsWright12 said...

Very well written article. We have to stop racism and start loving eachother. RIP Viola, you did what only few would attempt to do. Sally continue to be proud of your mom and teach your kids about the affects of racism.