[Marxism] Viola Liuzzo

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Jun 7 08:59:04 MDT 2016

Later today I will be blogging about the HBO film "All the Way" that 
stars Bryan Cranston as LBJ. In doing some background reading on LBJ in 
Kenneth O'Reilly's superlative "Nixon's Piano", I ran across the name of 
Viola Liuzzo, a woman from Detroit who was killed by the KKK in 1965 
while transporting marchers back to their home from the Selma to 
Montgomery freedom march. Out of curiosity, I checked what Wikipedia had 
to say about here. It really gives you a sense of the sea change that 
has taken place in the American working class.


Liuzzo was born Viola Fauver Gregg on April 11, 1925, in the small town 
of California, Pennsylvania, the elder daughter of Eva Wilson, a 
teacher, and Heber Ernest Gregg, a coal miner and World War I veteran. 
He left school in the eighth grade, but taught himself to read. Her 
mother, Eva Wilson Gregg, had a teaching certificate from the University 
of Pittsburgh. The couple had one other daughter, Rose Mary, in 1930. 
While on the job, Heber's right hand was blown off in a mine explosion, 
and, during the Great Depression, the Greggs became solely dependent on 
Eva’s income. Work was very hard to come by for Mrs. Gregg, as she could 
only pick up sporadic, short-term, teaching positions. The family 
descended further into poverty and decided to move Georgia to 
Chattanooga, Tennessee, where Eva Gregg found a teaching position, when 
Viola was six.[4]

The family was very poor and lived in one-room shacks with no running 
water. The schools Liuzzo attended did not have adequate supplies and 
the teachers were too busy to give extra attention to children in need. 
Because the family moved so often, Liuzzo never began and ended the 
school year in the same place. Having spent much of her childhood and 
adolescence poor in Tennessee, Viola experienced the segregated nature 
of the South firsthand. This would eventually have a powerful impact on 
Liuzzo’s activism. It was during her formative years that Liuzzo 
realized the unjustness of segregation and racism, as she and her 
family, in similar conditions of great poverty, were still afforded 
social privilege and amenities denied to African Americans under the Jim 
Crow laws.[5] Although her parents argued against it, Liuzzo dropped out 
of school in the tenth grade. She and her father often argued about her 
social activities and, at the age of 16, Liuzzo ran away and married a 
much older man. The marriage lasted only one day.

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