California nonprofit to honor Civil Rights martyr | Native Information

A newly formed non-profit organization is planning a memorial to California-born Viola Gregg Liuzzo, who was murdered 56 years ago in Alabama by the Ku Klux Klan.

California Area re: Generations raises money to remember Liuzzo, a white woman who was killed while working for black suffrage in Selma.

“We need a hero that people can look up to to do the right thing,” said Rosemary Capanna, a board member for the organization.

Liuzzo was born on Park Street in East Pike Township on April 11, 1925, before being incorporated into the neighboring California Borough. The house she lived in was eventually demolished to expand the campus of the California University of Pennsylvania.

In March 1965, she lived in Detroit and watched Alabama state forces on television attack about 600 protesters on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma on what became known as Bloody Sunday. Liuzzo later responded to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to go to Selma to continue the march to Montgomery.

Liuzzo’s family faced discrimination while living in a California neighborhood reserved for immigrants and later when her parents moved to Georgia when she was around 6, Capanna said.

“After all, she was a smart, strong, empathetic woman who wanted to make the world a better place,” the nonprofit website said.

The march ended on March 25th. Liuzzo was driving Leroy Moton, a young black man, down Route 80 that day when a vehicle pulled up next to her car and one of his passengers opened fire and caused a fatal wound on her head. Moton pretended to be dead in order to survive.

The death of Liuzzo, a mother of five, rocked the nation, and she was the only white woman recognized as a civil rights martyr.

Capanna said the nonprofit has an application pending for a state historical marker for Liuzzo. A location for the memorial has not yet been determined.

The nonprofit also plans to distribute small grants for community improvement projects in the California school district.

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