MEMPHIS, TN — Social justice advocacy has been such a natural part of Native Memphian Jocelyn Dan Wurzburg as she was honored by the Tennessee Human Rights Commission (THRC) at its 50th anniversary celebration in Nashville for her longtime advocacy in civil rights and women’s rights in 2013. The Commission created a special award, called the “Jocelyn Dan Wurzburg Civil Rights Legacy Award.”
Wurzburg an attorney, was originally appointed to the THRC in 1971 by Gov. Winfield Dunn and was re-appointed in 2007 by Gov. Phil Bredesen. She authored the1978 legislation that became the Tennessee Human Rights Act. The act transformed the Commission from an advisory organization to one with powers to investigate, conciliate and litigate claims of discrimination.
Thanks to this legislation, the THRC now enforces both the Tennessee Human Rights and Tennessee Disability Acts. These prohibit discrimination in many areas, from race, creed and color to national origin, sex, religion, disability, age in employment, familial status for housing and also are crafted to prevent retaliation in housing, employment and public accommodations.
She was also appointed by President Gerald R. Ford to the International Women’s Year commission in 1975 and brought the Panel of American Women to Memphis to confront racial and religious prejudice in the aftermath of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination.
That was just one of many times Wurzburg fought for racial and social equality. She was appointed by the late Arthur Fleming the the U.S. Commission on Cuvil Rights in 1972 and served until 2000. Secretary Coleman appointed her to the Minority Business Resource Center of the Federal Railroad Administration.
She is well known for her many other positions including being on th Union of American Hebrew Congregations: Commission on Social Action, the Beale Street Historic Foundation and Police/Community Relations Committee, the Family Law Code Revision Commission, the NAACP, NOW, warp, ACLU, Common Cause, Women’s Political Caucus and NARAL.
WURZBURG is also the founder of the Memphis Chapter of the Panel of American Women and the Jazz Society of Memphis.
She has spent a full life in the public arena battling for others, and continues to do so to this day. The Tennessee Tribune is delighted to included of of our Persons of the Year, a lifelong friend of the Publisher as our Memphis Person of the Year with her many awards, lengthy list of honors, credits and achievements.