Living Legacy Day 6: February 16, 2009

Remembering Viola Liuzzo

By Leon Dunkley

Unitarian Universalist Living Legacy Civil Rights Pilgrimage

In the late afternoon, we stopped along the road and approached a lonely altar, her singularly brave stone of remembrance. We approached eagerly and with trepidation. We strode to the place at which we believe that we have stowed hopes for the flowering and the subsequent triumph of the human soul. I knew and perhaps, we knew—again and for the first time—that empathy is the revo-/evolutionary force of love in our world. Genuinely, empathy is a life-affirming, life-giving force. It is the soulforce through which we enter and become one another as family.

In the one we remember as Viola Liuzzo as well as in the one we call James Chaney, in the one that we remember as Jimmie Lee Jackson as well as in the one we call James Reeb, the fiercest of serpents and the most gentle of doves, in their strong hearts, remain well met. In their strong hearts and in one another’s, what is best in us remains well met.

Leon Dunkley has a graduate degree in ethnomusicology and is currently a student at Starr King School for the Ministry. He is serving as Intern Minister at Unity Church—Unitarian in St. Paul, MN, and is on the UU Living Legacy Civil Rights Pilgrimage. A version of this post appears on Gini Courter’s blog, "Just Gini."

Two women listen as Leon Dunkley speaks with a group of people.
Leon Dunkley (right) with other participants on the UU Civil Rights Pilgrimage.
Selma Voting Rights Mural.
The voting rights mural in Selma.