The critically acclaimed biography From Selma to Sorrow: The Life and Death of Viola Liuzzo by author and historian Mary Stanton is getting adapted into a new biopic.
According to Deadline’s Anthony D’Alessandro, Viola Liuzzo was a “white housewife, part-time college student, and mother of five children whose passion for the Civil Rights Movement led to her brutal murder by the Ku Klux Klan immediately following her participation in the Selma to Montgomery civil rights marches of 1965.”
D’Alessandro writes that “while Liuzzo is the only white woman honored at the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, 55 years after her murder, she remains an enigma. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at Liuzzo’s funeral, and her murder motivated President Lyndon Johnson to galvanize support to achieve civil rights legislation.”
As her interest in activism grew in the 1960s, Liuzzo began to help shuttle Black demonstrators between Selma and Montgomery. She was ultimately shot by the KKK for her actions on March 26, 1965 near Lownsboro, Mississippi en route to Montgomery.
“Many saw Liuzzo as a dedicated civil rights activist. However, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover compromised Liuzzo’s reputation, as he crafted a malicious public relations campaign that unfairly portrayed Liuzzo as an unstable woman who abandoned her family to stir up trouble in the South,” said D’Alessandro. “Hoover desperately tried to cover up the FBI’s relationship with an informant and Klansman who participated in Liuzzo’s murder. The years of unrelenting accusations, innuendos and lies took a tremendous toll on the lives of Liuzzo’s husband and their five children.”
In the book and in the film, Liuzzo’s story is told through the perspective of her friend Sarah Evans, a Black woman who “introduced her to the Civil Rights Movement and raised Liuzzo’s five children after her untimely death.”
“Our passion for Viola Liuzzo’s story is unwavering,” said Carolyn Folks, executive producer at Allen Media Group and one of the producers of the Liuzzo film. “We at Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures are committed to presenting Liuzzo’s extraordinary acts of courage and her impactful contribution to the Civil Rights Movement and our history. Viola Liuzzo will not be a forgotten hero.”
Casting and production are scheduled to occur later this year.