Marian Wright Edelman
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Marian Wright Edelman
Marian Wright Edelman in 1994
June 6, 1939
|Occupation||Children's rights activist|
|Organization||Children's Defense Fund|
|Spouse(s)||Peter Edelman (m. 1968)|
Presidential Medal of Freedom
(Full list below)
Marian Wright Edelman (born June 6, 1939) is an American activist for the rights of children. She has been an advocate for disadvantaged Americans for her entire professional life. She is president and founder of the Children's Defense Fund (CDF).
Marian Wright was born June 6, 1939 in Bennettsville, South Carolina. Her father was Arthur Jerome Wright, a Baptist minister, and her mother was Maggie Leola Bowen. In 1953, her father died of a heart attack when she was 14, urging in his last words, "Don't let anything get in the way of your education."
She attended Marlboro Training High School in Bennettsville, where she graduated in 1956 and went on to Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. Due to her academic achievement she was awarded a Merrill scholarship which allowed her to travel and study abroad. She studied French civilization at the Sorbonne University and at the University of Geneva in Switzerland. For two months during her second semester abroad she studied in the Soviet Union as a Lisle Fellow. In 1959 she returned to Spelman for her senior year, and became involved in the Civil Rights Movement. In 1960 she was arrested along with 14 other students at one of the largest sit-ins at the Atlanta City Hall. She graduated from Spelman as valedictorian. She went on to study law and enrolled at Yale Law School where she was a John Hay Whitney Fellow, and earned a Juris Doctor in 1963. Member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Edelman was the first African American woman admitted to The Mississippi Bar. She began practicing law with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund's Mississippi office, working on racial justice issues connected with the civil rights movement and representing activists during the Mississippi Freedom Summer of 1964. She also helped establish the Head Start program.
Edelman moved in 1968 to Washington, D.C., where she continued her work and contributed to the organizing of the Poor People's Campaign of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. She founded the Washington Research Project, a public interest law firm, and also became interested in issues related to childhood development and children.
In 1973, she founded the Children's Defense Fund as a voice for poor children, children of color, and children with disabilities. The work of the Children's Defense Fund (CDF) primarily revolves around its teen pregnancy prevention program. The organization has served as an advocacy and research center for children's issues, documenting the problems and possible solutions to children in need. She also became involved in several school desegregation cases and served on the board of the Child Development Group of Mississippi, which represented one of the largest Head Start programs in the country.
As leader and principal spokesperson for the CDF, Edelman worked to persuade United States Congress to overhaul foster care, support adoption, improve child care and protect children who are disabled, homeless, abused or neglected. As she expresses it, "If you don't like the way the world is, you have an obligation to change it. Just do it one step at a time."
She continues to advocate youth pregnancy prevention, child-care funding, prenatal care, greater parental responsibility in teaching values and curtailing what she sees as children's exposure to the barrage of violent images transmitted by mass media. Several of Edelman's books highlight the importance of children's rights. In her 1987 book titled, Families in Peril: An Agenda for Social Change, Edelman stated, "As adults, we are responsible for meeting the needs of children. It is our moral obligation. We brought about their births and their lives, and they cannot fend for themselves." Edelman serves on the board of the New York City based Robin Hood Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to the elimination of poverty.
During a tour by Robert Kennedy and Joseph Clark of Mississippi's poverty-ridden Delta slums in 1967, she met Peter Edelman, an assistant to Kennedy. They married on July 14, 1968. Edelman and her husband, now a Georgetown law professor, have three children: Joshua, Jonah, and Ezra. Joshua is an educational administrator; Jonah works in education advocacy and founded Stand for Children; Ezra is a television producer and director who won an Academy Award for his documentary O.J.: Made in America.
Honors and awards
- 1982 Candace Award, National Coalition of 100 Black Women
- 1985 MacArthur Fellowship
- 1985 Barnard Medal of Distinction
- 1986 Doctor of Laws, honoris causa Bates College
- 1988 Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism
- 1991 Award for Greatest Public Service Benefiting the Disadvantaged, an award given out annually by Jefferson Awards.
- 1992 Boy Scouts of America, Silver Buffalo Award
- 1993 National Women's Hall of Fame
- 1995 Community of Christ International Peace Award
- 1996 The 2nd Annual Heinz Award in the Human Condition
- 2000 Presidential Medal of Freedom
- A Marlboro County library named in honor of Edelman, opened on February 22, 2010, in her hometown of Bennettsville, South Carolina.
- 2011 Rathbun Visiting Fellow at Stanford University
- 2014 Rhode Island School of Design: MLK Celebration Series Annual Honoree and Keynote Speaker
- Edelman, Marian Wright (1975). Winson and Dovie Hudson's Dream. Cambridge: Harvard University. OCLC 49643782.
- Edelman, Marian Wright (1981). American Children and Families. Washington, D.C.: Religious Action Center. OCLC 7968448.
- Edelman, Marian Wright (1987). Families in Peril: An Agenda for Social Change. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-29228-6.
- Edelman, Marian Wright (1992). The Measure of Our Success. Boston: Beacon Press. ISBN 0-8070-3102-X.
- Edelman, Marian Wright (1993). Kids and Guns: A National Disgrace. Washington, D.C.: Educational Fund To End Handgun Violence. OCLC 32644803.
- Edelman, Marian Wright (1995). Guide My Feet. Boston: Beacon Press. ISBN 0-8070-2308-6.
- Edelman, Marian Wright; Adrienne Yorinks (1998). Stand for Children. New York: Hyperion Books for Children. ISBN 0-7868-0365-7.
- Edelman, Marian Wright (1999). Lanterns: A Memoir of Mentors. Boston: Beacon Press. ISBN 0-8070-7214-1.
- Edelman, Marian Wright (2000). The State of America's Children. Boston: Beacon. OCLC 46480964.
- Edelman, Marian Wright (2002). I'm Your Child, God: Prayers for Children and Teenagers. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 0-7868-0597-8.
- Edelman, Marian Wright (2005). I Can Make a Difference: A Treasury to Inspire Our Children. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-028051-4.
- Edelman, Marian Wright (2008). The Sea Is so Wide and My Boat Is so Small. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 978-1-4013-2333-2.
- "Edelman, Marian Wright - South Carolina Encyclopedia". South Carolina Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2018-01-01.
- Jone Johnson Lewis (2008). "Marian Wright Edelman Biography". About.com. Retrieved 2008-10-26.
- "Marian Wright Edelman Facts". biography.yourdictionary.com. Retrieved 2018-01-01.
- Jannsson, Bruce S. (2 May 2014). Brooks/Cole Empowerment Series: The Reluctant Welfare State (8 ed.). Cengage Learning. p. 316. ISBN 1285746945. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
- Lomotey, Kofi (2009). Encyclopedia of African American Education. SAGE Publications. p. 140. ISBN 1412940508.
- Serling Goldberg, Marsha; Feldman, Sonia (2013). Teachers with Class: True Stories of Great Teachers. Andrews McMeel Publishing. p. 38. ISBN 0740786873.
- Gates Jr., Henry Louis; Brooks, Evelyn (2004). African American Lives. Oxford University Press. p. 265. ISBN 019988286X.
- Zigler, Edward; Styfco, Sally J. (2010). The Hidden History of Head Start. Oxford University Press. p. 65. ISBN 0199745501.
- "Marian Wright Edelman, Founder and President of the Children's Defense Fund". www.spelman.edu. Retrieved 2018-01-01.
- "The Poor People's Campaign". www.childrensdefense.org. Retrieved 2018-01-01.
- "Marian Wright Edelman". www.childrensdefense.org. Retrieved 2018-01-01.
- "Marian Wright Edelman (1939–)." African American Almanac, Lean'tin Bracks, Visible Ink Press, 1st edition, 2012. Credo Reference, https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/vipaaalm/marian_wright_edelman_1939/0. Accessed 15 Jan 2018.
- Hine, Darlene Clark; Thompson, Kathleen (1999). A shining thread of hope the history of Black women in America (1. paperback ed.). New York: Broadway Books. ISBN 9780767901116.
- Traver, Nancy; Ludtke, Melissa (March 23, 1987). "They Cannot Fend for Themselves That is why Marian Edelman became a top lobbyist for children". Time. Vol. 129 no. 12. p. 27.
- Lawson, Carol (October 8, 1992). "AT HOME WITH: Marian Wright Edelman; A Sense of Place Called Family". The New York Times.
- "CANDACE AWARD RECIPIENTS 1982-1990, Page 1". National Coalition of 100 Black Women. Archived from the original on March 14, 2003.
- "Jefferson Awards Foundation Past Winners". Jefferson Awards Foundation. Retrieved 2017-03-28.
- National Women's Hall of Fame, Marian Wright Edelman profile
- The Heinz Awards, Marian Wright Edelman profile
- "Marian Wright Edelman Library opens". U.S. Rep. John Spratt (D-SC), press release, December 24, 2001.
Monday, February 22, was a dreary day by all accounts, with grey skies and bouts of sometimes heavy rain. But inside the Marian Wright Edelman Public Library, it was a different story: bright and warm, with an air of excitement that anyone could feel. Monday was opening day for the new library.
- "Spratt Secures $1.325 Million for Marian Wright Edelman Library" (PDF). = Marlboro Herald Advocate, Lynn McQueen, February 25, 201. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-09-04.
- "Marian Wright Edelman Library opens". Marlboro Herald Advocate, Lynn McQueen, February 25, 2010.
- "KEYNOTE: MARIAN WRIGHT EDELMAN". 29 January 2014.
- "The Revolution Starts Now | News | About | RISD". www.risd.edu. Retrieved 2017-03-28.
- Thomas, Rhondda R. & Ashton, Susanna, eds. (2014). The South Carolina Roots of African American Thought. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press."Marian Wright Edelman (b. 1939)," p. 257-260.
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