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From Selma to Sorrow: The Life and Death of Viola Liuzzo Paperback – August 5, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press (August 5, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0820322741
  • ISBN-13: 978-0820322742
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #391,537 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A suburban Detroit housewife and part-time student at Wayne State University, Viola Liuzzo joined the voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in March 1965. Driving along a deserted highway with a young black man the night of the march, she was shot and killed, becoming, briefly, a martyr of the civil rights movement before questions about her character and motives clouded her memory. What kind of a mother would leave young children and run the risk of violence in the South? What was she doing alone in her car with a black man? Through her research, freelance writer Stanton found reason to believe that the accusations against Liuzzo were trumped up by the FBI to divert attention from the agency's own dubious role in Liuzzo's murder. A paid FBI informer was in the car that forced Liuzzo off the road, and he was later accused of being the shooter as well. Stanton traces her interest in Liuzzo back to the night of the murder, when the author was in high school. She compares her life with Liuzzo's, chronicling both women's dissatisfaction with traditional female roles. In re-creating her subject's life, Stanton relies on media coverage and personal interviews, and while her speculations on Liuzzo's thoughts and the FBI's role in the murder are not verifiable, the author provides an all-too-likely scenario for a government conspiracy. In writing about Liuzzo's activism, Stanton herself has made an important contribution to civil rights history. 23 illustrations not seen by PW.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Freelance writer Stanton has produced the first full-length adult biography of Viola Liuzzo, a white Civil Rights worker who was murdered by the Ku Klux Klan in 1965, just a few hours after the Selma voting rights march ended. Strangely, instead of being considered a martyr for the Civil Rights cause, Liuzzo was almost immediately vilified as a troubled, interfering Northerner whose "proper" place should have been home tending her five children. Eventually, she was memorialized in the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery (the only white woman so recognized) and also at the site where she was shot. But as Stanton makes clear, justice was never served in punishing her killer. This investigation of a neglected figure and her stirring times is appropriate for academic and public library collections.?Patricia A. Beaber, Trenton State Coll. Lib., Lawrenceville, NJ
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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The information leaked to the press was the invention of the FBI's J. Edgar Hoover.
Yours Truly
The book is in layers, with the story of getting the story as telling of the 1990s as the unfolding of what was actually happening in Selma and America in the 1960s.
Constance Adeyeri
It's great to see Liuzzo vindicated, and this book provides a mirror to that particular point in time.
K. G. Schneider

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Yours Truly VINE VOICE on August 9, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Only one of the many people who gave their lives for racial justice in the 1960s was a white woman. Several reasons for this become clear in Mary Stanton's moving portrait of the life of Viola Liuzzo.

In an age when conformity was considered a virtue, especially for white women, Viola Liuzzo was not a conformist. A spirited woman who married the first time as a teenager, Liuzzo was at the time of her death attending Wayne State and the mother of five children. Her best friend was African American, when that was considered peculiar. Her husband was a Teamster, but he could not control her. When none of the other students who agreed to accompany Liuzzo to Alabama at Martin Luther King's invitation showed up, she went alone. The March from Selma to Montgomery was hours finished when she and a young black male passenger in her car were shot. He survived, just barely. She did not.

For all Liuzzo's unconventionality, nothing prepared her friends and family for the drubbing her reputation was given by the government. Overnight, she went from a brave, unselfish freedom fighter to a slut who abandoned her children, possibly used drugs and was married to the mob. The information leaked to the press was the invention of the FBI's J. Edgar Hoover. Hoover had his own reputation to protect, and that of an informant inside the Ku Klux Klan, who contributed to Liuzzo's death.

Stanton, who has since written several portraits of whites caught up in the Movement , shows that it was these slurs on Liuzzo's reputation, rather than her death, that inflicted the deepest wounds on her family. She was killed twice-once by a bullet and again by the ugliest kind of slander.

While Congress debates whether or not the Voting Rights Act should be renewed, this book reminds us that our government of, by and for the people has often colluded with the worst among us to keep down the weakest. It's worth remembering.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 21, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I remember the murder of Viola Liuzzo very well because her son Tommy was in my class at Precious Blood School in Detroit when it happened. We were in 8th grade. I remember the aftermath, although being only 13, I was only marginally aware of the magnitude of the whole event. My mother was one, of many, who asked "what was she doing there when she had 5 kids in Detroit?" Reading Mary Stanton's book took me back to a difficult place and time. She has done her research well and cares about her subject. It was painful reading for me because of what happened to the family and in my furvent hope that I was not one of Tommy's grade school tormentors. A wonderful depiction of a fascinating person and a terrible time in our country's history.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Constance Adeyeri on October 25, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book took priority over my agenda, a page turner of the first order. Getting the real story of Viola Liuzzo was on the back burner of my own mind so long I didn't remember it was there until Stanton's book caught my attention at the library. The book is in layers, with the story of getting the story as telling of the 1990s as the unfolding of what was actually happening in Selma and America in the 1960s. The role of women and political correctness 1960s style all over the U.S.A. as well as in Selma rings true. The story of the civil rights movement in the context of the South is absolutely girpping.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 18, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Like Mary Stanton, I was also curious about Mrs Luizzo, and she stayed in the back of my mind. I am sorry for the loss her family and many other families suffered simply because they wanted to change something that was completely wrong and unjust. I also feel shame on a government who would go so far to make those who were right and decent appear so degrading and immoral and to even allow murder to protect the "status quo" This book is must reading for anyone who really wants to take the blinders off about what really happened during that horrible time. I have recently been given the opportunity to visit parts of Alabama and while the area I visited is very decent, mentally I can still visualize the Alabama of 1965 and understand why it is necessary to leave the Viola Luizzo marker defaced; as the author has stated the struggle isn't over. Thank you Mary Stanton
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By K. G. Schneider on November 2, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Truly outstanding story-within-a-story. Stanton takes you through her own journeys as she parses Liuzzo's history. It's great to see Liuzzo vindicated, and this book provides a mirror to that particular point in time.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By West Coast Piano Player on March 25, 2002
Format: Paperback
The only thing I remember in 1965 about my childhood in Montgomery, Alabama was that I was six-years-old and there was the terrible murder of a white woman by the Ku Klux Klan. I didn't know her name. All I knew was she was killed for having a black man ride in her car with her. That is all I have known for years. Thanks to Mary Stanton's excellent biography, I now know her name and her story. One night after reading several chapters I could not get to sleep. My thoughts were of Vi and Highway 80 out of Selma. Remembering can be a painful thing but through the sensitivity of Stanton's writing and her personal admiration for Viola Liuzza, I came to love and admire this courageous woman. Sorry that we never met. I appreciate Stanton sharing her struggle to research the story and write it. That was fascinating and very rewarding to be at Stanton's side page after page hoping her contacts and leads would pan out.
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