Marian Wright Edelman is President of the Children's Defense Fund and its Action Council whose Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start, and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.
Blog Post List
November 4, 2016
“You know, it was pretty staggering. It put an end to essentially something that the Civil War was unable to end.” -Legal Defense Fund Attorney Jack Greenberg, describing his reaction after the Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education I was heartbroken by the recent death of Jack Greenberg, one of the last great legal links to Brown v. Board of Education and my first boss out of law school . What a privilege to work in a legal powerhouse with Jack and Constance Baker Motley, Derrick Bell, James Nabrit, III and many other gifted and committed civil rights attorneys. As the son of...
October 31, 2016
President Obama’s historic visit to Hiroshima this week offers an opportunity to take a clear-eyed look back to the first and only time nuclear weapons have been used in war. Germany had surrendered on May 8, 1945. Japan refused to surrender and continued to wage the Pacific War. President Harry S. Truman faced a decision on whether or not to drop the world’s first atomic bomb in Japan.
October 21, 2016
Hope for the Future is a series of twelve meditations that include Scripture passages, moving true stories, and examples from other movements and faithful leaders to inspire all those working to create a better world for our children. It’s a book that could be used as a devotional or in group discussions by everyone from parents to pastors. Rev. Daley-Harris has long been speaking out on the call to care for children in every major faith tradition and calling on people to turn faith into action. As the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF)’s Religious Affairs Advisor and Director of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Child Advocacy Ministry Institute for two decades, she coordinates the National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths® Celebrations. Every year congregations of many faiths observe the Children’s Sabbath by drawing on Rev. Daley-Harris’s resources and the texts and teachings of their religious traditions to hear and respond to the holy and eternal call for love and justice that urges special care and protection for children, especially those who are poor.
October 14, 2016
Whether children will have a strong foundation is in large part determined by the social and physical environments in which they grow up. The first five years of a child’s life are the time of greatest brain development. If young children’s basic needs are met by experiencing consistent, nurturing interactions with loving adults, they are far more likely to meet their full potential. The United States has not made the necessary investments to support young children and families after the seismic shift from stay-at-home moms and two parent families to the current reality of two-parent-working families, or often single working moms with young children today. The major advances in what we now know about early childhood brain development make these investments more urgent. Our aging early childhood infrastructure is in dire need of repair. While we wait for critically needed investments, there has been important progress.
October 7, 2016
If Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. were alive today, I am certain he would be urgently saying it is a moral imperative for each one of us to register and vote in our local, state, and national elections this year — and every year. Shortly after Congressman John Lewis spoke movingly at the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, he was asked on a radio show if he thought this was the time to organize another march on Washington. Without missing a beat, he replied: “I think the best march that we can have right now in America is on Election Day, November the eighth, for all of us all over America – Black and White, Latino, Native American, young people – to march to the polls. The vote is precious. It’s almost sacred. It is the most powerful nonviolent tool we have in a democratic society.”
Child Watch® Column: Honoring Sojourner Truth: Courageous Warrior for Justice, Equality and Freedom for AllSeptember 30, 2016
I was recently deeply honored to be asked by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus to serve as sponsor for a Navy ship being named for Sojourner Truth, my lifelong heroine and North Star in the struggle for freedom, equality, and justice in our land.
Child Watch® Column: The National Museum of African American History and Culture: Changing America’s NarrativeSeptember 23, 2016
The September 24 opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture is the realization of a dream that’s been a very long time coming, beginning a century ago when Black leaders first proposed a memorial to Black Civil War veterans. Dr. Rex M. Ellis, the museum’s Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs, speaking to young teachers during the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF)’s 2016 Freedom Schools® training, shared his hopes that the museum will help light the way for the next generation of Americans and that the museum’s vision will “change the master narrative of our nation:”
September 16, 2016
Poverty data just released by the U.S. Census Bureau reveal child poverty declined last year to 14.5 million poor children from 15.5 million in 2014, one million fewer but still higher than before the recession began in 2007.
September 9, 2016
As a new school year begins, how do we teach Black and other non-White children and youths and all those who are poor or have special needs to ensure their successful readiness for the future? How do educators and all those with primary responsibilities for preparing children for the future understand that every child is sacred and deserves fair treatment? How do we create a pedagogy that respects the unique gifts of our diverse child population and nation of many colors and faiths and become a beacon for our multiracial multicultural world?
September 2, 2016
The Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) and AASA, The School Superintendents Association, have just released Happy, Healthy, and Ready to Learn: Insure All Children! a toolkit to help schools and districts connect children to health care coverage as part of routine school enrollment.
August 19, 2016
As a new school year begins, parents, teachers and administrators are all thinking about how to make it the best year ever. One of the keys to student success sounds very simple but can make a profound difference: making sure every student is in school every day. This is not the case in many schools and school districts across the country. The Department of Education estimates that five to seven and a half million students miss 18 or more days of school each year, or nearly an entire month or more.
August 12, 2016
Do your children love the books on their summer reading lists? Are your children reading about diverse cultures and books that reflect their experience or history? Children of color are now a majority of all public school students and will soon be a majority of all children in America yet children’s books and the publishing industry have failed to keep up with the rainbow of our children’s faces and cultures and needs. Every summer our Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Freedom Schools® curriculum is focused on a superb collection of diverse books that reflect children’s own images and a wide variety of cultures and experiences. For some children it’s the first time they’ve seen books with characters who look like them. For others the storylines draw them in, teach them about moments in history they may not have studied in school, and allow them to fall in love with reading in a way they’ve never experienced.
August 5, 2016
Bryan Stevenson, the brilliant founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, believes it’s possible to change our nation and world despite the inequality and violence that sometimes threaten to overwhelm us. He’s thought long and hard about the steps needed and believes a key to changing America’s future is changing the narrative we tell ourselves about our shared past. This is especially true about our legacy of Native American genocide, slavery and Jim Crow, and the injustices throughout our history that linger and simmer under the surface then boil over again and again. He speaks often about the urgent need to confront our historic narrative including recently to young servant leaders preparing to teach children in Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools® programs across America.
July 29, 2016
Four little girls were changing into choir robes and chatting in a church restroom preparing for the Youth Sunday services at 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama on September 15, 1963. At 10:22 a.m. a bomb previously hidden under the church steps with its timer deliberately set to go off during Sunday morning services exploded. Three 14-year-olds, Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley, and 11-year-old Denise McNair were killed on that Sunday morning.
July 22, 2016
[The summer] brought racial disorders to American cities, and with them shock, fear and bewilderment to the nation. The worst came during a two-week period in July, first in Newark and then in Detroit. Each set off a chain reaction in neighboring communities . . . What happened? Why did it happen? What can be done to prevent it from happening again?
July 12, 2016
In an important show of bipartisanship, Congress is on the cusp of an historic step to help many of the most vulnerable children in our nation who are abused and neglected and at risk of entering foster care and lingering in group care.
July 8, 2016
The group of Atlanta interfaith leaders meeting that September 11th had a vision for their own version of a beloved community. Instead of being deterred by terror and hate they planted the seeds for what grew into the Interfaith Children’s Movement. Dr. Luther E. Smith, Jr., Professor Emeritus of Church and Community at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology and coordinator of the Pan-Methodist Campaign for Children in Poverty, has been a leader in the movement since the beginning.
July 1, 2016
Congressman John Lewis' call to action in the U.S. House of Representatives on June 22nd was the beginning of an extraordinary event in our nation's Capitol.
June 24, 2016
Sunday, June 12, America woke up to news of the worst mass shooting in our gun-soaked history. A celebration of Latin Night at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando turned into a killing field fueled by intolerance, hate and weapons of war. Now is the time to remember those who stand up and stand together in love.
June 16, 2016
Inaction is not an option. In the wake of the worst mass shooting in American history we can and must do everything in our power to end this scourge of terror, hate and bullets that fly across our land killing and maiming and breaking hearts and traumatizing communities with ever increasing frequency.
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