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The Journey to Civil Rights: Their Personal Narratives at Temple B'nai Abraham in Livingston

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Jo Ann Bland with TBA group
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Jo Ann Bland and Rabbi Dantowitz
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Jo Ann Bland
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Mary Liuzzo Lilleboe
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The Journey to Civil Rights: Their Personal Narratives at Temple B'nai Abraham in Livingston

On Friday, January 19, following Shabbat Services at 6:30 p.m., Temple B’nai Abraham invites you to attend a special presentation entitled The Journey to Civil Rights: Their Personal Narratives by Jo Ann Bland and Mary Liuzzo Lilleboe. The program will begin at about 7:15 p.m.. It is free, and all are welcome to attend. The temple is located at 300 E Northfield Road, Livingston.

Recently Rabbi Faith Joy Dantowitz had the honor of leading a group from Temple B’nai Abraham on an Etgar Tour,  which leads a Civil Rights Journey in the South, introducing people to individuals who stood up for justice in the 1960s and to those doing justice work today. On tour in Selma, Alabama, among the numerous visits to historical  locations and museums as well as lectures and events, the TBA participants met with Civil Rights activist Jo Ann Bland, who is witness and participant in some of our nation’s most consequential civil rights battles. The tour members also heard the gripping story of Viola Gregg Liuzzo, a Detroit native and mother of four, who paid the ultimate price of her activism with her life.  Rabbi Dantowitz invited Jo Ann Bland and Mary Liuzzo Lilleboe, daughter of activist Viola Liuzzo, to share their experiences with the congregation. Earlier that day, Ms. Bland  and  Ms. Lilleboe have also  been invited to address students in classes at Livingston High School.

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Jo Ann Bland began her civil rights activism in the early 60s. The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) activists organized Bland and other area children and teenagers to participate in the civil rights movement. In the front lines of the struggle, the young Bland marched on “Bloody Sunday” and “Turn Around Tuesday,” and the first leg of the successful March from Selma to Montgomery, witnessing brutal beatings of fellow marchers by police.  By the time she was 11 years old Bland had been arrested 13 times. Ms. Bland’s early involvement in the struggle against “Jim Crow”, American apartheid, has been the foundation for her civil and human rights work throughout her life. Currently, Mrs. Bland is owner and operator of Journeys For The Soul, a touring agency that specializes in educational tour on the Civil Rights tours with a major focus on Selma, Alabama.

Mary Liuzzo Lilleboe has been immersed in the Civil Rights Movement since her mother’s, Viola Gregg Liuzzo, murder by the KKK in 1965 while participating in the Selma-to-Montgomery Voting Rights March. Through the years, Mary realized that her mother’s death, not her life, had overshadowed everything she did. In a quest to feel close to the mother she lost and to celebrate her life, Mary traveled through the South talking to the people that her mother spent the last days of her life with. As she learned of her mother’s activities in Selma and rediscovered the woman who raised her, she also learned the stories of the people her mother went to Selma to help. The people of the movement embraced and nurtured Mary. They mentored her, and her life’s path was determined. Mary sheds light on the true history of this movement through the stories of the people who lived them. She brings the 1960s Civil Rights Movement to life through her very personal and unique perspective. She has told her story in documentaries to radio and television audiences around the world. Mary represents an important part of the continuing struggle for justice and equality in America.

For information , go to www.tbanj.org or call 973.994.2290.

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