Sybil Haydel Morial, author of Witness to Change: From Jim Crow to Political Empowerment will be at Bay Books signing her book on Saturday, November 14th from 12:00-1:30
In 1950s New Orleans, a young woman steps into her white tulle gown and glides down the long hallway of her parents’ house into the front garden. Her father, a respected physician, drives her downtown, where she will make her debut into Negro society. Sybil is mesmerized by the debut rituals but cannot help noting their irony in a world where she daily faces the barriers and insults of Jim Crow.
So begins Witness to Change: From Jim Crow to Political Empowerment. Throughout her memoir, Morial revisits moments—from Brown v. Board of Education to Hurricane Katrina—that have defined her own life, the black community, and the nation.
Thirteen years after her debut, Sybil lies sleepless in bed next to her husband, Dutch Morial. Medgar Evers, the NAACP’s Field Secretary, has just been murdered in Mississippi. Dutch, the organization’s New Orleans president, has just received another chilling death threat. In halting whispers, the couple discusses how to protect their three young children. The Morials first become legal, then political, activists. Testing Brown v. Board of Education, Sybil attempts to enroll in graduate school at Tulane and Loyola. She and Dutch challenge a statute restricting political activities of public school teachers. Barred from the League of Women Voters, Sybil forms an organization to help register Negroes held back from voting. After serving as judge and Louisiana legislator, Dutch is elected New Orleans’ first black mayor.
Witness to Change reveals Morial as a woman whose intelligence overrides the clichés of racial division. In its pages, we catch rare glimpses of black professionals in an earlier New Orleans, when races, though socially isolated, lived side by side; when social connections helped circumvent Jim Crow; when African American culture forged New Orleans—and American—identity.
Through loving eyes, Sybil traces the rise of her sons and daughters. After Dutch’s death, Marc Morial serves two terms as mayor of New Orleans. Sybil’s other children—a physician, a public policy strategist, a community development director, and a judge—lead and serve their communities before and after Hurricane Katrina’s devastation.
For more information about this event or to reserve your copy of, of Witness to Change: From Jim Crow to Political Empowerment, contact Bay Books at 228.463.2688
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