Children’s Defense Fund

Recent Articles

Conference recruited fighters for War on Poverty

By Isaac Peterson

Contributing Writer

 

Fifty years ago, in 1964, then-president Lyndon Johnson mobilized the resources of the U.S government to engage in his historic War on Poverty, saying, “The richest nation on earth can afford to win it. We cannot afford to lose it.”

Fifty years later, although there were some victories in the effort to end poverty, obviously much work remains before victory may be declared. To that end, on May 1 a coalition of Minnesota organizations banded together for the Minnesota Poverty Call to Action. The group was hosted by the Minnesota Community Action Partnership. Community Action Agencies were themselves created by a War on Poverty program. Continue Reading →

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Funneling children into the adult criminal justice system

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Marian Wright Edelman

Guest Commentator

 

Children are not little adults. Adolescents are not the same as adults. We’ve known this for years. The research showing that their brains are still developing is clear. Although young people act on impulse, they have the ability to positively change and have a productive future. Continue Reading →

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Extend emergency unemployment insurance

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Marian Wright Edelman

Contributing Writer

 

In the last few days of the year, most Americans are wrapping up their holiday celebrations and pondering the promise of 2014. But millions of Americans who have been struggling the longest to find work in our slowly recovering economy are now facing deep uncertainty and despair instead of a Happy New Year. The budget deal Congress finally reached in December did not extend emergency unemployment insurance benefits for the long-term unemployed and 1.3 million struggling jobseekers who lost needed survival benefits on December 28. Unless Congress acts immediately in the new year to extend these benefits, huge numbers of struggling jobseekers will be affected. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates almost five million jobless workers will lose benefits over the next 12 months. Continue Reading →

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“Ask What You Can Do For Your Country”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Marian Wright Edelman

Contributing Writer

 

“It should be clear by now that a nation can be no stronger abroad than she is at home. Only an America which practices what it preaches about equal rights and social justice will be respected by those whose choice affects our future. Only an America which has fully educated its citizens is fully capable of tackling the complex problems and perceiving the hidden dangers of the world in which we live.” — From the speech President John F. Kennedy planned to deliver on November 22, 1963.  

I was a brand new law school graduate in my first months of work with the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund in New York City on that fateful November day 50 years ago. I had begun the day visiting a young Black male death row client in a rural Georgia prison accused of killing a White farmer and had returned to Atlanta where I was sitting in a courthouse library researching how many Blacks and Whites had been executed in Georgia’s history. Continue Reading →

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God does not give up on any child

By Marian Wright Edelman

Guest commentator

 

“I’ll take anyone,” Davion said. “Old or young, dad or mom, Black, White, purple. I don’t care. And I would be really appreciative. The best I could be…”

It was a front-page story in the Tampa Bay Times last month that broke hearts around the world. Continue Reading →

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Will we soon visit the museum to see poverty?

 

By Marian Wright Edelman

Guest Commentator

 

“We can change the world…Let’s believe in it; let’s make it happen so that someday soon we will visit the museum to see poverty because we will never see poverty in society. It does not belong in a civilized society.”

These are the wonderful words my friend and visionary Dr. Muhammad Yunus said when he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal this spring. He joined a very small group of people who have received the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Congressional Gold Medal — just three of a long list of his much deserved awards from countries and international organizations around the world. It’s little surprise that he’s been so widely honored. Many leaders and philosophers say we should end poverty, but through his visionary innovation, tireless hands-on work, and dogged unwillingness to accept it, Dr. Yunus has made ending the cycle of poverty a reality for millions of people around the world, especially millions of women and their children. Continue Reading →

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Zero-tolerance discipline policies: a failing idea

 

 

By Marian Wright Edelman

Guest Commentator

 

Many school children in America are on summer break right now, but here’s a pop quiz about discipline policies in our nation’s schools that’s just for grownups:

• Would you suspend a student from school for four months for sharpening his pencil without permission and giving the teacher a “threatening” look when asked to sit down? • Would you expel a student from school for the rest of a school year for poking another student with a ballpoint pen during an exam? • Would you expel a student from school permanently because her possession of an antibiotic violated your school’s zero-tolerance drug policy? • Would you call the police, handcuff, and then expel a student who started a snowball fight on school grounds? If you answered “no” to any of these questions because they sounded too unfair to be the result of an actual policy, give yourself a failing grade. Continue Reading →

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Where are our leaders? What are our core values?

 

 

By Marian Wright Edelman

Guest Commentator

 

It will not be sufficient for Morehouse College — for any college, for that matter — to produce clever graduates, men fluent in speech and able to argue their way through; but rather honest men, men who can be trusted in public and private, who are sensitive to the wrongs, the sufferings, and the injustices of society and who are willing to accept responsibility for correcting the ills. — Benjamin E. Mays, President, Morehouse College

 

Benjamin E. Mays, Morehouse College’s president from 1940-1967, said this about the kind of men and leaders he expected Morehouse to produce. As a student at neighboring Spelman College, I heard and saw President Mays often and had the privilege of singing in Morehouse’s Sunday morning chapel choir and hearing this great man’s wisdom. Of the six college presidents in the Atlanta University academic complex, Mays was the one students looked up to most. He inspired and taught us by example and stood by us when we challenged Atlanta’s Jim Crow laws in the sit-in movement to open up public accommodations to all citizens. Continue Reading →

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‘Fierce urgency’ stressed at MLK Breakfast

Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund, told nearly 2,000 people attending the 23rd annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Breakfast January 21, “We need to wake up.” 

Specifically, she urged the sold-out audience at the Minneapolis Convention Center and the live TV audience watching on TPT (Twin Cities Public Television) to wake up to the consequences of failing to improve the educational disparities that pose dangerous implications for the future of our country: “Will the United States be a beacon or a blip in history? “We need to recognize that we have to invest now,” Edelman said, “and invest with urgency and with persistence so that we can give every child a chance to be able to function, work and contribute in this very complex, changing world and economy.”

A graduate of Spelman College and Yale Law School, Edelman began her career in the mid-1960s when, as the first African American woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar, she directed the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund office in Jackson, Miss. In 1968, she moved to Washington, D.C. as counsel for the Poor People’s Campaign that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. began organizing before his death. In 1973 she founded the Children’s Defense Fund. Under her leadership, it has become one of the United States’ strongest advocates for children and families. Continue Reading →

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New Year resolutions: Protect children from violence, poverty

 

 

By Marian Wright Edelman

Guest Commentator

 

As New Year’s Eve countdowns wound down, many people turned to the familiar ritual of taking stock of where they are now to make resolutions for what they can do better in the new year. We all measure our accomplishments and shortcomings in different ways. Some people count numbers on a scale or in a savings account. But what if we decided to take stock as a nation by measuring how we treat our children? If we did that kind of countdown, we’d learn:

• Every second-and-a-half during the school year a public school student receives an out-of-school suspension. Continue Reading →

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