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Financial Donation to Center Honors a Lifetime of Activism

by Christopher Harter, Deputy Director

Support for the Amistad Research Center comes from a diverse community of donors; from individuals and families to organizations, foundations and businesses. The Center is honored to acknowledge a financial contribution of $2500.00 from Burns & McDonnell, an employee-owned firm of 7,600 engineers, construction professionals, architects, planners, technologists, and scientists based in Kansas City, Missouri. This contribution was made in the name of Sybil Morial, who serves on Amistad’s board of directors and was honored in early March by Burns & McDonnell for her lifetime of community activism.

According to Talia Jackson, Corporate Services manager and a member of Burns & McDonnell’s Diversity Advisory Committee, “Each year, Burns & McDonnell hosts a special event for our employee-owners and community partners to celebrate the remarkable life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We were honored to be joined by Ms. Sybil Morial at this year’s event as she shared her unique perspective on the power of local activism during the civil rights era and its continued importance in today’s world.”

The idea to honor Ms. Morial came during a chance encounter between Ms. Jackson and Ms. Morial’s daughter at an event in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. After learning about Ms. Morial and her lifelong community activism, “I soon shared Ms. Morial’s story with the rest of our committee, hoping to invite her to speak at this year’s MLK Day celebration,” says Ms. Jackson. “Everyone was immediately on board.”

Although the Burns & McDonnell MLK Day event was postponed due to inclement weather, Ms. Morial was able to visit the company’s headquarters in Kansas City in March to share her story. According to Ms. Jackson, the company’s goal “is to not only recognize diversity, but to increase awareness and appreciation for all facets of diversity and to encourage inclusion. Ms. Morial’s transformational leadership in ensuring all have a seat at the table epitomizes our firm’s continued commitment to nurturing a culture of inclusion.”

The donation to the Amistad Research Center came at the suggestion of Ms. Morial’s daughter due to the family’s long association with the Center. “Burns & McDonnell is honored to make a financial contribution to the Amistad Research Center in Ms. Morial’s name as a token of our gratitude for her sharing her story with us,” says Ms. Jackson. “We proudly support the research center in its mission to archive and provide open access to materials that preserve the social and cultural importance of America's ethnic and racial history, human relations and civil rights. Ms. Morial reminded us all that we honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy by striving to affect change in our day-to-day lives. Her courageous efforts in New Orleans signify the importance of local activism — both during the civil rights era and in today’s world.”

The Amistad Research Center gratefully acknowledges the donation from Burns & McDonnell, and would like to thank Ms. Sybil Morial. We give a special thank you to Talia Jackson and Mary Young of Burns & McDonnell for their help in preparing this announcement.

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