Viola Fauver was born in Pennsylvania on 11th April, 1925. As a child, Viola lived in Tennessee and Georgia. After an unsuccessful marriage and the birth of two children, Viola married Anthony J. Liuzzo, a Teamster Union official from Detroit. Viola had three more children and at the age of 36 she resumed her education at Wayne State University. After graduating with top honors Viola became a medical lab technician.
A member of the NAACP, Viola decided to take part in the Selma to Montgomery March on 25th March, 1965, where Martin Luther King led 25,000 people to the Alabama State Capitol and handed a petition to Governor George Wallace, demanding voting rights for African Americans. After the demonstration had finished, Viola volunteered to help drive marchers back to Montgomery Airport. Leroy Moton, a young African American, offered to work as her co-driver.
On the way back from one of these trips to the airport, Viola and Leroy, were passed by a car carrying four members of the Ku Klux Klan from Birmingham. When they saw a white woman and black man in the car together, they immediately knew that they had both been taking part in the civil rights demonstration at Montgomery. The men decided to kill them and after driving alongside Viola's car, one of the men, Collie Wilkins, put his arm out of the window, and fired his gun. Viola Liuzzo was hit in the head twice and died instantly. Leroy was uninjured and was able to get the car under control before it crashed.
The four men in the car, Collie Wilkins (21), Gary Rowe (34), William Eaton (41) and Eugene Thomas (42) were quickly arrested. Rowe, an FBI undercover agent, testifed against the other three men. In an attempt to prejudice the case, rumours began to circulate that Viola was a member of the Communist Party and had abandoned her five children in order to have sexual relationships with African Americans involved in the civil rights movement. It was later discovered that these highly damaging stories that appeared in the press had come from the FBI.
Despite Rowe's testimony, the three members of the Ku Klux Klan were acquitted of murder by an Alabama jury. President Lyndon Johnson, instructed his officials to arrange for the men to be charged under an 1870 federal law of conspiring to deprive Viola Liuzzo of her civil rights. Wilkins, Eaton and Thomas were found guilty and sentenced to 10 years in prison.