Inspiring teacher and her daughter recount their lives in a memoir of the 1960s Deep South amidst extreme poverty and racial tension. Building on journals left by her mother, Aura Kruger, Jo Ivester explores her family’s journey into one of the most segregated areas of the American South in the 1960s, providing a ground-level perspective on the War on Poverty.
In 1967, when Jo Ivester was ten years old, 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. But 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, moving, and inspiring portrait of her family’s experiences living and working in an all-black town during the height of the civil rights movement.
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’s assassination, Aura Kruger encouraged her students to reach their full potential and ultimately inspired an entire community.