Women’s History Month: Marian Wright Edelman, civil rights activist

Marian Wright Edelman (born: June 6, 1939) is an American activist who, in 1973, founded the Children’s Defense Fund.  She was the first African American woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar.  She worked on racial justice and civil rights issues with the NAACP fund’s of Mississippi.  She also helped establish the Head Start Program.

In DC in 1968, she organized the Poor People’s Campaign and Southern Christian Leadership Conference.  This is when she became interested in issues related to childhood development.  That interest would grow until she founded the Children’s Defense Fund,  a group dedicated to he welfare of children who did not have a voice.  Their work involved advocacy and research that led to influencing Congress to overhaul the foster care system and to supporting adoption.

According to Wikipedia:  “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.”

Wikipedia also provides a list of her selected works if you are interested in learning more:

  • Winson and Dovie Hudson’s Dream. Cambridge: Harvard University. 1975. OCLC 49643782.
  • American Children and Families. Washington, D.C.: Religious Action Center. 1981. OCLC 7968448.
  • Families in Peril: An Agenda for Social Change. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 1987. ISBN 0-674-29228-6.
  • The Measure of Our Success. Boston: Beacon Press. 1992. ISBN 0-8070-3102-X.
  • Kids and Guns: A National Disgrace. Washington, D.C.: Educational Fund To End Handgun Violence. 1993. OCLC 32644803.
  • Guide My Feet. Boston: Beacon Press. 1995. 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.
  • Lanterns: A Memoir of Mentors. Boston: Beacon Press. 1999. ISBN 0-8070-7214-1.
  • The State of America’s Children. Boston: Beacon. 2000. OCLC 46480964.
  • I’m Your Child, God: Prayers for Children and Teenagers. New York: Hyperion. 2002. ISBN 0-7868-0597-8.
  • I Can Make a Difference: A Treasury to Inspire Our Children. New York: HarperCollins. 2005. ISBN 0-06-028051-4.
  • The Sea Is so Wide and My Boat Is so Small. New York: Hyperion. 2008. ISBN 978-1-4013-2333-2.

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