All White Jury Frees Klan Members
Civil rights activist Viola Liuzzo was shot and killed on March 25, 1965, as she drove African American civil rights marcher Leroy Moton in her car from Montgomery to Selma, Alabama. Four Ku Klux Klan members, Eugene Thomas, William Eaton, Collie Leroy Wilkins, Jr., and Thomas Rowe, Jr., were arrested and tried. Artist Howard Brodie drew the all-white, all-male jury that served at one of the multiple trials. While Rowe, an FBI informant, received immunity for his testimony, Thomas, Eaton and Wilkins, were acquitted in state trials. On December 3, 1965, the three men received ten-year sentences on a federal charge of conspiracy to deprive Liuzzo of her civil rights. As a result of Liuzzo's death, President Johnson petitioned Congress to increase the scope of the Federal Conspiracy Act of 1870 to include the death of civil rights workers. Her death also helped raise support for the passage of the Voting Rights Act, Pub. L. 89-110.