Scholarship honors human rights activist

August 11, 2014 8:45 AM

Maggy Baccinelli

Barbara Miller Asher

After decades of speaking out against discrimination and advocating for human rights, the Barbara Miller Asher Endowed Undergraduate Scholarship will empower students. “We are really happy to recognize mom in this fitting way,” says her daughter, Helen DuBow.

While growing up in Marshfield, Wisconsin, in the 1940s, Barbara Miller Asher didn’t expect to attend Newcomb College, nor become an Atlanta-based human rights activist.  And yet, in 1956, Asher arrived at Newcomb by train, and her immediate involvement on campus laid the framework for her future advocacy in Atlanta, where she moved after graduating in 1960 and marrying Norman Asher, an Atlanta native. 

Asher’s many decades of public service, including almost 20 years as an elected official on the Atlanta City Council, was cut short by her untimely death in 1995 and is recognized with a life-size statue in downtown Atlanta. This summer, Asher’s family created an endowed scholarship in her memory at Tulane University, so that her legacy may also live on in New Orleans for generations to come. 

While at Newcomb, Asher served as student union president and was an active member of the Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority. 

After graduating, she lived in New York City, and eventually embraced Atlanta as her permanent home. There, she volunteered as the president of National Council of Jewish Women and vice-president of United Way Southern District. During her tenure on the Atlanta City Council from 1977 until 1995, she was dedicated to serving the community and spearheaded projects like the Atlanta Community Investment Project, the Atlanta Loft Housing Task Force and the Community Reinvestment Act, which allowed city banks to finance housing for people with low to moderate incomes. 

Asher’s daughter, Helen DuBow, a 1988 Newcomb College graduate, believes that Asher’s experience growing up as one of the only Jewish people in her small town inspired her bravery at an early age and her time at Newcomb helped shape who she became. 

“It was an empowering place for women, and it prepared her for a life of service above self,” says DuBow. 

Maggy Baccinelli is a communications specialist in the Tulane Office of Development Communications.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000