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Circuit Judge T. Werth Thagard (seated) and Circuit Solicitor Arthur E. Camble, Jr. will be the judge and prosecutor when Leroy Wilkins, Jr. goes on trial for the slaying of Mrs. Viola Liuzzo, May 1965
Vintage wire photograph on paper

Creation Place: North America
Technique: Photography
Credit Line: Restricted gift of Michael Mattis and Judy Hochberg in honor of Myrlie Evers-Williams.
Accession Number: P2021.13.314

Commentary
Judge and Prosecutor in Liuzzo Slaying Trial: Circuit Judge T. Werth Thagard (seated) and Circuit Solicitor Arthur E. Camble, Jr., both of Greenville, Alabama, will be the judge and prosecutor Monday when Leroy Wilkins, Jr., 21, goes on trial on first degree murder charges in the slaying of Mrs. Viola Liuzzo, a Detroit Civil Rights worker. Two others will face similar charges later, Hayneville, Alabama.

Viola Fauver Gregg Liuzzo (1925-1965) was a Unitarian Universalist Civil Rights activist from Michigan. In March 1965, Liuzzo--then a housewife and mother of five with a history of local activism--heeded the call of Martin Luther King, Jr. and traveled from Detroit, Michigan, to Selma, Alabama in the wake of the Bloody Sunday attempt at marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Liuzzo participated in the successful Selma to Montgomery marches and helped with coordination and logistics. Driving back from shuttling fellow activists to the Montgomery airport, she was murdered by members of the Ku Klux Klan. Liuzzo was 39 years old. Her funeral was held at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Detroit on March 30, with many prominent members of both the Civil Rights Movement and government there to pay their respects. Included in this group were Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; NAACP Executive Director Roy Wilkins; Congress on Racial Equality national leader James Farmer; Michigan Lieutenant Governor William G. Milliken; Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa; and United Auto Workers President Walter Reuther. Liuzzo was buried at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Southfield, Michigan. Less than two weeks after her death, a charred cross was found in front of four Detroit homes, including the Liuzzo residence. Collie Leroy Wilkins Jr. was the last survivor of three Klansmen accused in the 1965 shooting death of Viola Liuzzo, a white Detroit housewife and mother who went to the South and volunteered to help register blacks to vote. Liuzzo was shot from a passing car on a highway as she drove a black marcher home after the Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march. An FBI informant claimed that Wilkins was the triggerman. An all-white state jury acquitted Wilkins of murder. Later that year, Wilkins was convicted in federal court along with William Orville Eaton and Eugene Thomas of violating Liuzzo's Civil Rights. Wilkins served about seven years of a 10-year sentence.

Marks
On recto: typewritten title and date.
On verso: Associated Press stamp and date stamp.

Materials
Wire photographs were originally transmitted over phonelines, then later, by satellite. They were first used in the early 1920s. Associated Press became a leader with this. After pigment touch-ups, etc., the print is put into a drum (like a drum scanner). The image gets converted into audio tones that are transmitted. The tones are received and beamed onto photo-sensitive paper. Wire photographs are copies without originals---they are hybrid, transmitted objects. (Britt Salvesen, Curator and Department Head, Photography Department, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, March 30-31, 2022)

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