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Willora “Peaches” Ephram was born in Utica, Mississippi, in 1924 to sharecropper parents. Unable to work in the fields, Willora stayed inside, learning to cook from her mother and grandmother. By the age of 8, she was preparing whole meals for her family to eat as they retuned each day from the cotton fields. In 1948, she moved to Jackson in search of a better life with only $8 to her name. After working for a while as a cook in the long-closed Blackstone Café on Farish Street, Willora had, by 1961, saved up enough money to open a restaurant of her own. For more than 50 years, Ms. Peaches, as she’s known to just about everyone, cooked breakfast, lunch, and dinner for Jackson’s black community. Everyone from Muhammad Ali to Medgar Evers enjoyed her fried chicken, greens, and candied yams. During the Civil Rights Movement, Peaches’ Restaurant served as a safe haven for activists.

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