Sybil Haydel Morial would have led a very privileged life growing up in New Orleans in the 1940’s and 1950’s had it not been for the South’s all-encompassing Jim Crow laws. Her father, Dr. Clarence C. Haydel, was a well-respected surgeon in the community; her mother, Eudora, was an accomplished housewife who loved to cook, garden and entertain in the family’s well-appointed home. Sybil was surrounded by many loving aunts, uncles and cousins as well as her older sister Jean who suffered an untimely death. She attended the best Catholic schools, spent the summers in the country, traveled to Europe and had a memorable debut. As a teenager, Sybil enjoyed the company of family friend Ambassador Andrew Young who wrote the foreword to the memoir before his death.
But the harsh realities of segregation and how it impacted her life every day defined Sybil. It also drove her to become a teacher, civil right activist, arts patron, husband to New Orleans’ first African-American mayor — Dutch Morial — and mother to our third, Marc Morial. Sybil’s new book, Witness To Change, is a compelling, easy-to-read story about Sybil and Dutch — told from Sybil’s perspective.