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145 Epilogue An awareness of the interconnectedness of race, class, and gender motivated Memphis’s female reformers into their work with civil rights organizations, and those connections evolved into work with groups dedicated to other reform efforts. All of the women in this study initially avoided characterizing their work as political activism, preferring instead to label it social reform work. Regardless of the moniker, these women effected tangible political change through such “innocuous” endeavors as assisting impoverished children receive free lunch and breakfast, teaching children Bible stories in ad hoc Sunday schools, and working to shift racist attitudes among the white power structure to which all of them belonged. Jocelyn Wurzburg’s connections through the Panel of American Women, for example, led to her work with the grant review committee of the Comprehensive Employment Training Act (CETA) Board that was in the process of allocating federal money to job training programs throughout the state of Tennessee. Wurzburg connected the problem of racial inequality to the lack of job opportunities, and she operated from that assumption while selecting which training programs received financial assistance in the late 1960s and early 1970s, as well as in her work in establishing the Tennessee State Human Relations Commission. Furthermore, Wurzburg’s involvement with the creation of optional schools as an alternative to busing and the exodus of white students from the Memphis city school system led to her 1971 appointment to the Epilogue 146 Tennessee Commission for Human Development, on which she served until 1977. In 2008, Wurzburg lives in Memphis, working as both a mediator in family law disputes and as an attorney.1 Dorothy “Happy” Jones continued her activism following the busing of students in the Memphis city schools. Her work with the Memphis Council on Community Relations included, in the wake of Elton Hayes’s death in 1971, the creation of the Police-Community Relations Board as a moderating body dedicated to eliminating continuing harassment of African Americans by the Memphis Police Department. In the 1980s, Jones served as the first president of the Network of Memphis, continued her work with optional schools in the wake of busing, and contributed to such organizations as the National Conference for Community and Justice, the Urban League, and YWCA.2 Jones’s earlier work with the Memphis planning commission, whose forerunner, the Human Relations Committee, listed a number of veterans of Memphis’s civil rights struggle on its membership rolls, also catapulted her into reform work well after the close of the modern civil rights movement. In 2007, Jones was continuing to seek an end to rezoning attempts outside city limits that have resulted in a large number of retail establishments and entertainment complexes untouched by city taxes and laws. Indeed, the focus of Jones’s activism in 2007 remained community development and the restoration of Memphis’s city center in the face of increasing migration to the city’s primarily white suburbs, along with an invigorated effort to raise the minimum wage and grant a living wage to all working Memphians.3 Still other activists, such as Donna Sue Shannon, motivated by their newly discovered awareness of the extent of racial inequality, continued to work with groups dedicated primarily to civil rights, including the Panel. The Memphis Police Department enlisted Panel staff and volunteers to train officers in race sensitivity workshops from 1973 until its demise in 1979. Jeanne Varnell, another participant in these workshops, carried on her work for racial justice throughout the interim years, serving on the board of the National Civil Rights Museum in 2003. As of 2007, Varnell belonged to the Memphis Interfaith Association and the Memphis Area Women’s Council.4 Sara Evans pointed out in her work on the relationship between the civil rights and the feminist movements that many white female activ- Epilogue 147 ists of the baby boom generation found the seeds of women’s liberation planted during their tenure with organizations devoted primarily to civil rights work, and numerous Memphis women, including members of an older generation, followed that pattern. Unlike the subjects of Evans’s study, however, these women were older and more traditionally married. This demographic difference complicates Evans’s narrative by demonstrating that women of an earlier generation felt drawn to feminism in much the same way as their younger counterparts. Members of the Panel, including Jocelyn Wurzurg, assisted in the launch of the Women’s Resource Center in 1974 in an attempt to create a network of activists from...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781604733518
Print ISBN
9781604732283
MARC Record
OCLC
864853079
Pages
208
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
N
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