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On another wall in Eliot Hall hangs the "Selma Memorial," a tribute to three civil rights martyrs who were killed during the turbulent spring of 1965 in Selma, AL: Jimmie Lee Jackson, a young African American whose murder sparked the protests, Viola Liuzzo, and Rev. James Reeb, Unitarian Universalists who responded to Dr. King's call to come to Selma to witness for justice in the aftermath of Jackson's death.
Jimmy Lee Jackson was beaten and shot by a state trooper as he tried to protect his mother and grandfather during the civil rights march in Marion, Alabama. The outrage over Jackson’s death prompted the Selma to Montgomery March, which raised public awareness of civil rights abuses and ultimately led to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Liuzzo was a member of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Detroit. Responding to Dr. King’s call, she went to Selma to participate in the civil rights march. While she was driving black protesters along the highway between Selma and Montgomery, Liuzzo was murdered by a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
Reeb joined many Unitarian Universalist ministers who answered the call of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., to come to Selma in the wake of Bloody Sunday. While leaving a black-owned Selma diner with two other Unitarian ministers, Reeb was beaten by white assailants. He died of his injuries two days later.
For more information, visit the 2001 "Selma 1965" issue of the UU World.
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Last updated on Thursday, May 3, 2012.
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Learn more about the Beliefs & Principles of Unitarian Universalism, or read our online magazine, UU World, for features on today's Unitarian Universalists. Visit an online UU church, or find a congregation near you.