THE ICON: Sybil Morial
THE LEGACY: Nothing daunts Sybil Haydel Morial – not the Jim Crow laws of her childhood; not the racism to which she and her husband, Dutch Morial, were subjected during his political career; and not even 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, which trashed her home, or the 2011 fire that destroyed it after renovation had begun. Throughout those travails, the dedicated civic activist, educator and community leader — who also proved to be a steadying behind-the-scenes force during her husband’s historic time as New Orleans’ first black mayor — stood tall as an elegant and indefatigable inspiration to a generation of New Orleans women. The secret to her perseverance? Perspective. “I used to tell my children adversity builds character, and when you have hard experiences and hard times, you appreciate the good times,” she said in a 2015 interview.
THE ARTIST: Michael McManus
THE INSPIRATION: “I guess my cocoon life helped me not to be bitter. … We couldn’t self-destruct. We couldn’t damage ourselves by being bitter because it would damage us. Living that life outside was what motivated me to get involved as an adult – not to be bitter and angry but to do things that would bring about change.” — Sybil Haydel Morial, in a 2015 interview with NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune