Slain civil rights activist to receive posthumous degree

SURVIVOR—Family members of Rev. James Reeb meet with Leroy Moton on Thursday, March 5, during a memorial at the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Selma, Ala. (AP Photo/The Casper Star-Tribune, Ryan Dorgan)
SURVIVOR—Family members of Rev. James Reeb meet with Leroy Moton on Thursday, March 5, during a memorial at the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Selma, Ala. (AP Photo/The Casper Star-Tribune, Ryan Dorgan)

DETROIT (AP)—For 24 years, a stone marker has stood along U.S. 80 in Alabama’s Lowndes County, near the spot where Viola Gregg Liuzzo was fatally shot by Klansmen while shuttling demonstrators after the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march.
But in Liuzzo’s hometown of Detroit, such public recognition is scarce. A wooden marker bearing her name sits on a fence beside a small neighborhood playfield. Last year, an exhibit in Lansing included Liuzzo among Michigan women who contributed significantly to civil rights.
That will change on April 10. Liuzzo’s former school, Wayne State University, plans to award her an honorary doctor of law degree. It’s the first posthumous honorary degree in the 145-year-old school’s history. Wayne State also will dedicate a tree or green space for Liuzzo.
Liuzzo’s five children have been invited to the ceremony. Liuzzo’s husband, Anthony Liuzzo Sr., died in 1978.
“I cried,” Liuzzo’s daughter, Mary Liuzzo Lilleboe, said of her reaction to Wayne State’s decision. “It’s the highest honor an educational institution can bestow on someone. It’s the honor that’s being paid to her. She’s a civil rights giant.”

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