Viola Liuzzo Exhibit to Open at Women’s Historical Center October 20: Slain Civil Rights Worker Is a Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame Honoree

LANSING, MI – A Civil Rights worker from Detroit who was murdered by members of the Ku Klux Klan following the March to Montgomery in 1965 is the subject of a dramatic new exhibit at the Michigan Women’s Historical Center. Entitled “Viola Liuzzo: An Exemplary Woman in Extraordinary Times,” the exhibit honors Liuzzo’s commitment to social justice while conveying the circumstances surrounding her death and the attempts to bring her assailants to justice. An opening reception will be held from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 20, 2007; the exhibit will run at the museum through December 28.

The concept for the exhibit originated with faculty and students of Davenport University. Numerous students performed research and located artifacts, and two also contributed original works of art for the installation; Sarai Mena molded a ceramic sculpture of Liuzzo, while Sotir Davidhi created a 10-foot-wide painting that blends the faces of Liuzzo, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rosa Parks. A series of essays on Civil Rights issues is another example of student expression in the exhibit.

Davenport faculty supervised the students’ efforts, scripted the text panels, and worked with a graphic designer to pull the elements together into a compelling, cohesive exhibit.

Other highlights of “An Exemplary Woman in Extraordinary Times” include four timelines that document the personal history of Liuzzo as it intersects with key events in the Civil Rights Movement. Complementing these are photographs of three men who figured prominently in her life-President Lyndon Johnson, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover-along with excerpts from an FBI file that illustrate the agency’s attempt to sully Liuzzo’s reputation. Magazines of the period establish the national significance of her death and illustrate the public debate over her involvement in the march.

Also included in the exhibit is the paperwork generated by Mary Campbell, a Davenport professor, and Linda Whaley, a student, to nominate Liuzzo to the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame. Liuzzo was inducted into the Hall in 2006.

The creation of “Viola Liuzzo: An Exemplary Woman in Extraordinary Times” was funded in part by a Strengthening Michigan Communities Through the Humanities Grant from the Michigan Humanities Council. The exhibit was recently donated to the Michigan Women’s Historical Center by Davenport University.

The Michigan Women’s Historical Center was established in 1987 by the Michigan Women’s Studies Association, which seeks to improve what is taught and thought about Michigan women in history. Inside the Historical Center are changing galleries highlighting women’s history and art as well as the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame, commemorating more than 200 Michigan women past and present. Operating hours are from noon to 5:00 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, noon to 4:00 p.m. Saturday, and 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. Sunday. Photographs, biographical sketches, and lesson plans relating to the Hall of Fame honorees may also be viewed online at

For more information about the development of the exhibit, please contact Sharon Vriend-Robinette, Davenport University’s department coordinator for Economics, Social Sciences, and Interdisciplinary Studies, at 616-554-4702 or