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Horace Cort

(active 1930s - 1960s)

FBI informer Gary Rowe, Jr. (right) is guarded by an FBI agent (left) as he leaves court in Hayneville, Alabama. He testified that he saw Klansman Collie Wilkins, Jr. fire shots in the slaying of Civil Rights worker Mrs. Viola Liuzzo., May 5, 1965
Vintage wire photograph on paper
9 x 6 1/2 in. (22.86 x 16.51 cm)

Creation Place: North America
Technique: Photography
Credit Line: Restricted gift of Michael Mattis and Judy Hochberg in honor of Myrlie Evers-Williams.
Accession Number: P2021.13.316

FBI Informer Says He Saw Murder: FBI informer Gary Rowe, Jr. (right) is guarded by FBI agent (left) as he leaves court in Hayneville, Alabama on May 5, 1965. He testified that he saw Klansman Collie Wilkins, Jr. fire shots in the slaying of Civil Rights worker Mrs. Viola Liuzzo. Rowe said he was riding in the back seat of the car from which the shots were fired. Rowe will take the stand again today.

Gary Thomas Rowe, Jr. (August 13, 1933 - May 25, 1998), known in Witness Protection as Thomas Neil Moore, was a paid informant and agent provocateur for the FBI. As an informant, he infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan to monitor and disrupt it, and he incited violence as part of the FBI's COINTELPRO project. Rowe was accused of participating in and helping to plan violent Klan activity against blacks and Civil Rights groups. From 1965 until his death, Rowe was a figure of recurring controversy, after he testified against fellow Klansmen accused of killing Viola Gregg Liuzzo, a Civil Rights volunteer. Rowe was accused of being an accessory to the murder. Other violent acts that he was accused of, and at times admitted to planning and perpetrating, include the attack on the Freedom Riders and the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing. He was given immunity by the FBI and was never convicted of any wrongdoing. Rowe confirmed many of these accusations in his 1976 autobiography, My Undercover Years with the Ku Klux Klan, and in confession and testimony given to the United States Senate.

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

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.

Variant illustrated: Associated Press ID #6505051141

On recto: typewritten title and date.
On verso: date stamp and newspaper stamp.

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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  • Image Dimensions: 9 x 6 1/2 in. (22.86 x 16.51 cm) Measured by Hudson, Karen
  • Sheet Dimensions: 9 15/16 x 8 in. (25.24 x 20.32 cm) Measured by Hudson, Karen

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