Viola Liuzzo

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Viola Liuzzo was murdered on March 25th, 1965 at the age of 39. She was a civil rights activist who had participated in the third Selma to Montgomery, AL voting rights march. While shuttling marchers in her car, she was murdered by members of the Ku Klux Klan, one of whom was an FBI informant. She was the first white woman to be murdered during the civil rights movement. Coupled with the events of the Selma to Montgomery marches, the murder of Viola Liuzzo was the final straw that led to the passing of the Voting Rights Act in August, 1965, and also had a life-long, severe impact upon her family.

The Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution enshrined political enfranchisement and suffrage for blacks into national and state law. However, many southern states used alternative methods to keep blacks from voting, such as poll taxes, literacy tests, and even physical violence. These methods made it virtually impossible for blacks to vote throughout the entire period of Reconstruction to the Civil Rights movement. Though blacks were allowed to vote by law, there were no laws to prevent states from doing whatever they could to keep blacks from voting. As a result, only five percent of eligible blacks were registered to vote in the state of Mississippi in 1965. # It is certain that most other southern states fared no better.

The Civil Rights movement from 1955 to 1968 was a series of non-violent protests and acts of civil disobedience in the pursuit of ending the disenfranchisement of black people, segregation and violence. There were many groups involved in the cause, such as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, first led by Martin Luther King, and the NAACP, which counted Viola Liuzzo as a member. There were many famous demonstrations, such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Greensboro sit-ins, and the Selma to Montgomery marches.

These marches were staged in support of voting rights, and were met with police violence. The first march is known as...
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