Teamsters Honor 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday
On March 25, 1965, Viola Liuzzo was gunned down in Alabama by four Ku Klux Klan members. The wife of Anthony Liuzzo, a business agent at Teamsters Local 247 in Detroit, was returning from shuttling voting rights marchers to the Montgomery airport after finishing the famous civil rights march from Selma.
The march that ended that day was actually the third march that month. The first ended abruptly in Selma as protesters were attacked by local police as they crossed the Edmund Pettus bridge. The brutality was captured by the news media and led thousands of civil rights supporters, including Liuzzo, to converge on Selma and join Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for the next two marches.
Teamsters from across the nation gathered in Selma on the weekend of March 7, 2015, to mark the 50th anniversary of what became known as “Bloody Sunday.”
The Teamster contingent was headed by International Vice Presidents Al Mixon and Ferline Buie, International Trustee Ron Herrera and the Teamsters Human Rights Commission, led by Chairman Antonio Christian. Hundreds of Teamsters, including BMWED and BLET members, joined President Barack Obama and tens of thousands of fellow marchers to mark the occasion.
In addition to participating in the Bridge Crossing Jubilee, the Teamster group was joined by two of Liuzzo’s daughters and members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference at the memorial marking the site of Liuzzo’s murder on Highway 80 near Montgomery.
“A Significant Role”
“The Teamsters played a significant role in supporting the efforts of Dr. King and the entire civil rights movement,” said Mixon, who also serves as President of the Teamsters National Black Caucus. “To gather in Selma 50 years after these historic events and honor those who put their lives on the line is truly moving, especially getting to spend time with the family of Viola Liuzzo, who gave her life for the civil rights movement.”
In fact, thousands of Teamsters also participated in the 1963 March on Washington. Further, the Teamsters, under the leadership of then-General President James R. Hoffa, donated more than $200,000 (adjusted for inflation) in support of civil rights organizations.
“I’m proud to be part of an organization that has helped lead the fight for equality for all,” said Buie.
President Obama addressed those in attendance, stating “If Selma taught us anything it’s that our work is never done.”
“We can never forget those who gave their lives for the betterment of all mankind,” said Christian. “We honor their sacrifices and recommit ourselves to improving the lives of workers throughout our nation and across the world.”