THE ICON: Mary Howell
THE LEGACY: A native of Malden, Missouri, Mary Howell told Tulanian magazine that her eyes were opened to the plight of minorities in 1962, when she read John Howard Griffin’s “Black Like Me.” That got her started; during her college years, she became involved in feminism and the anti-Vietnam War movement. After earning her law degree at Tulane University, Howell in 1977 opened a private law practice in New Orleans, and she has never lacked for work — or backed down from a fight, over the years taking on the New Orleans Police Department and the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office in high-profile cases. Serving as the inspiration for Toni Bernette, the lawyer Melissa Leo portrayed in the HBO series “Treme,” Howell has for years worked tirelessly to keep a check on the people in power — and to remind them of the power of the people.
THE ARTIST: Jessica Strahan
THE INSPIRATION: “I never liked bullies. I would always take up for the underdog.” — Mary Howell, in a 2001 profile in Tulanian, Tulane University’s alumni magazine