TBA Law Blog

Posted by: Mary Jo Middlebrooks on May 22, 2019

Journal Issue Date: Jun 2019

Journal Name: Vol 55 No 6

Jocie Wurzburg is a self-confessed Southern, Jewish American Princess, Civil Rights Activist.  However, those labels only scratch the surface.  This is the story of how a Jewish homemaker in Memphis, Tennessee, stepped forward at a pivotal point in the history of the Civil Rights Movement – making all the difference.

With great candor, Jocie tells her life story, never shirking from truth, regret or self-reproach.  As the author states:  “This is not a sad story of loss and sacrifice, although there was a lot of that and death in various forms.”  What the reader will find is an entertaining voyage of discovery.  Discovery of one’s worth, the worth of others and the worth of committing ourselves to the improvement of the community in which we live.  This is the life of Jocie Wurzburg.

Her description of her early years, while often charming and heart-warming, reveals the lifestyle to which many young women were expected to submit before the Women’s Movement.  With great insight, Jocie details the people who crossed her path, thereby making the difference in her life.

Jocie began her activist journey with the 1968 sanitation workers’ strike in Memphis, and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., which she relates as “the most transformative event in my life.”  As a result, she founded the Memphis Panel of American Women.  The Panel program consists of five women (one Catholic, one Jew, one African-American, two Caucasians) plus a moderator, who speak from personal experience about prejudice.  This concept was very successful, and, of course, led others to Jocie for her help with their important “projects” like the Police Community Relations Committee, the Tennessee Human Rights Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  While she performed important work, she gathered an impressive array of colleagues.
From there, Jocie arrived at the White House to be installed on the National Commission on the Observance of International Women’s Year.  A number of important appointments after that, Jocie gets her law degree, enters into the practice of law and changes the face of mediation in Tennessee.

This is what you will find in her book.  Jocie personifies this quote from President Barack Obama:  ”Change will not come if we wait for some other person or if we wait for some other time.  We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.  We are the change that we seek.”  

Along the way, as she changed her community, she collected “tales.”  Now she reveals “lawyer tales,” “women tales,” “male tales,” “travel tales,” “music tales” and more.  We learn the lessons she learned from her father.  We can see how she applied those lessons as she boldly moved through life in good times and in bad times.  If you are ready for a wild ride, this is the book for you.