Rosetta Miller Perry, left and Jocelyn D. Wurzburg

By Staff Reports

Mrs. Rosetta Miller Perry, a long-time Civil Rights activist has been named the recipient of the 2019 Tennessee Human Rights Commission’s Jocelyn D. Wurzburg Civil Rights Legacy Award.  The award will be presented, Friday, July 19, 2019 at 11:30 a.m. at the Supreme Court Chamber of the Tennessee Capitol.

This award is named in honor of Jocelyn D. Wurzburg of Memphis who has a long history of volunteer civil rights accomplishments, advocating for equity, equality and non-discrimination. She served on the Tennessee Human Rights Board of Commissioners on two occasions— in 1971 and again in 2007. During that time, she began extensive work and research to write the model for the Tennessee Human Rights Act, which she continued to promote after her first term.  In 1978 her actions were responsible for transforming the Tennessee Human Rights Commission from an advisory to an enforcement organization. The very first Wurzburg Award was presented to Jocelyn for her continued efforts in civil rights and women’s rights.

The Jocelyn D. Wurzburg Civil Rights Legacy Award is given to individuals who have demonstrated long term advocacy to human rights. Beverly Watts, Executive Director of the Tennessee Human Rights Commission said, “Award recipients are selected because his or her life’s work embodies the ideals and principles of inclusion, equity, equality, access and diversity and Mrs. Rosetta Miller Perry exemplifies those characteristics. Mrs. Miller Perry stated that she had worked with  Ms. Wurzburg when she was a member of the Tennessee State Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights and she was a field investigator.  She said Ms. Wurzburgh was always there in Memphis working to better relations within the community and state then and now and she is deeply humble to receive this award from a person she has always for more than 50 years.   The Tennessee Human Rights Commission Board of Commissioners selected Mrs. Perry as a recipient of this award because of her dedication and leadership in cultivating more inclusive and equitable communities,” Watts added.

The Board of Commissioners will hold its Commission meeting to discuss the goals of the Commission for the 2020 fiscal year on that day, Friday, July 19, 2019, and to publicly recognize Mrs. Perry and her outstanding work. 

Mrs. Perry, is the founder and publisher of the Tennessee Tribune newspaper, which has operated for more than 25 years.  Additionally, she served a Field Coordinator of the Equal Opportunity Commission and worked in pivotal roles in Nashville and Memphis during the 1960’s Civil Rights era.  Her work has been chronicled in various publications, including the book, A Spy in Canaan: How the FBI Used a Famous Photographer to Infiltrate the Civil Rights Movement by Marc Perrusquia.

For more information, contact Veronica McGraw at 615.253.1608 at the Tennessee Human Rights Commission.