Profiles of Women Who Make a Difference: Lisel Burns

During the month of March, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, URI North America is spotlighting four exceptional women involved in Cooperation Circles in the North America region.

By Robyn Lebron

Lisel Burns was raised in a cross-class background — a Navy brat who moved frequently with her family.

Then in 1967, a Mississippi summer civil rights project gave Lisel her life direction and solidified her calling. The project was based on a strategy to partner students from two northern colleges with students from Tougaloo College in Mississippi. The three colleges applied together for federal funding that would support a summer program that allowed high school and college students to spend several months on campus together.

This project was an effort to support brave African American high school students who made the personal choice to integrate into white high schools for the first time in history. These students suffered harassment and bullying throughout the previous year. The ultimate goal of that bullying was to get these students to drop out of high school. The unified project was designed to empower them to stay in school.
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