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Remembering a legend: Tucson remembers late civil rights leader, Betty Liggins

TUCSON – Back in 1960, Betty Liggins was a mail carrier in Chicago.

If you asked her then if she thought she would be an instrumental person in civil rights, not only in Tucson but the entire nation, she may have not believed you.

But now, nearly 60 years later, her impact can be felt across the United States.

“When I say feisty, she was always up for whatever that fight was,” Annie Sykes, a friend of Liggins said. “She wasn’t going to be backing down.”

Liggins passed away in a nursing home on May 8 at the age of 88 years old.

The community activist was also a nurse practitioner and someone who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Liggins left Chicago to relocate to Tucson and taught at the University of Arizona.

Sykes says Liggins opened and managed at least four different clinics in Tucson to help battle drugs and gangs.

“She has given contributions to many, many organizations, regardless or race gender or color,” Sykes said. “Betty is well known in the community throughout.”

Liggins belonged to a number of organizations as well. Skykes says up until her 80s. She was very much involved in the community.

“She has giant shoes,” Sykes said. “I don’t know if someone can fit the shoes she is leaving behind and will always be remembered by the community here.”

A memorial service is being held for Liggins at 11 a.m. on May 23 at Rising Star MBC, 2800 E. 36th Street.

EDITOR’S NOTE: News 4 Tucson’s Priscella Casper contributed to this story.

Anthony Victor Reyes

Anthony Victor Reyes

Anthony Victor Reyes is the lead digital content producer at News 4 Tucson. The award-winning journalist previously worked as a community reporter in Jasper County, Iowa.
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