Life in the American South during Civil Rights era focus of program

JO IVESTER…will speak at the JCRC program on Jan. 25.

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Southern New Jersey will be hosting Jo Ivester, author of “Outskirts of Hope: A Memoir of the 1960s Deep South” on Wednesday, Jan. 25 at 7 p.m. in the Family Activity Center at the Katz JCC in Cherry Hill.

The 1960s in the South was a time of turmoil, change and struggle for equality. Jo Ivester and her family was one of only two white families and the only Jewish family in all-black Mound Bayou, Mississippi in 1967. She had a unique, front-­row view of racism in America. More than 50 years later, she has used her mother’s journals to chronicle the family’s experiences. Ivester’s memoir recounts the positive effect her mother had on the community. From escorting her students to Memphis, where they attended a movie and, for the first time in their lives, sat in the main theater rather than the “colored” balcony, to risking her life to march with her students in the aftermath of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, Aura Kruger encouraged her students to reach their full potential and ultimately she inspired an entire community.

This special event, “Building Bridges of Hope,” held in collaboration with the Anti-Defamation League, JCRC’s BookMates Interfaith Reading Literacy program and the JCRC’s Esther Raab Holocaust Museum & Goodwin Education Center, is intended to bring together community members from all backgrounds and faiths for a conversation about learning and appreciating how each of us can make a difference by getting to know one another on a more personal level.

Jo Ivester was 10 years old when her father transplanted his young family from a suburb of Boston to a small town in the heart of the Mississippi cotton fields, where he became the medical director of a clinic that served the poor population for miles around. Ultimately, it was not Ivester’s father, but her mother–a stay-at-­home mother of four who became a high school English teacher when the family moved to the South, who made the most enduring mark on the town. In “The Outskirts of Hope,” Ivester weaves together her mother’s stories and those of her own childhood to paint a vivid portrait of her family’s time living and working in Mound Bayou during the height of the Civil Rights movement.

“The Outskirts of Hope” was the Winner of the 2015 Writers’ League of Texas Award for non-­fiction and the 2015 Winner of the National Indie Excellence Award for Autobiography, and was one of four 2015 finalists for the NIEA award for Social/Political Change. The ebook made The Wall Street Journal top 10 bestseller list.

Tickets are available online at for only $10 or by calling (856) 751-9500, ext. 1191. Students and JCRC Patrons are complimentary. Light refreshments will be served following the presentation. Seating is limited.

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