On Thursday, a monument was unveiled in Detroit to honor Viola Liuzzo, a white mother and activist killed during the civil rights movement, and her best friend Sarah Evans, who raised her kids after her death.
The monument, standing seven feet tall and featuring two sides with the inscription “Sisters in Life – Sisters in Struggle,” pays homage to both Liuzzo and Evans, The Associated Press reports. The other side of the monument, bearing the words “It’s Everybody’s Fight,” signifies the broader significance of the civil rights movement and includes references to other Michiganders who, like Liuzzo, traveled to Selma in 1965 to register voters. It also features a LIFE magazine cover, emphasizing the historical context of the era.
Liuzzo, a 39-year-old nursing student at Detroit’s Wayne State University, traveled to Alabama to aid the civil rights fight. Shots fired from a passing car and struck her in the head on March 25, 1965. Leroy Moton, her 19-year-old Black passenger, was injured.
Three Ku Klux Klan members were convicted in Liuzzo’s death.
The Associated Press notes that Liuzzo’s death occurred after “Bloody Sunday,” a civil rights march in Selma, Alabama, where protestors were beaten and tear-gassed by police. On March 7, 1965, protestors marched from Selma to Montgomery, the state capital, to demand an end to practices that denied Black people the right to vote. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed later that year.
“Violet Russo died at the age of 39. Martin died at the age of 39. Malcolm died at the age of 39. Their lives were not given. Their lives were taken. They took their lives for us,” said Reverend Wendell Anthony, President of the Detroit branch of the NAACP, during the ceremony honoring Liuzzo and Evans.
The memorial is in a park on Detroit’s west side, also named after Liuzzo.
Evan’s great Grandson Tyrone Green Jr. spoke at the unveiling. “I didn’t know what type of legacy that she was leaving behind for us. I wish I could have asked two more questions. I wish I would have sat down with her and had conversations,” he said.
His father, Tyrone Green Sr., called the monument “unbelievable.”
“When God put two angels together, can’t nothing but something good come out of that. They knew what love was,” he said.