Marian Wright Edelman

Recent Articles

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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Speaking up for and demanding full-day kindergarten

 

By Marian Wright Edelman

Guest Commentator

 

About four million American children celebrated a very big milestone this fall: their first day of kindergarten. Far too many were already a step or more behind their peers. If we want all of our children to be school-ready so that they can become college, career, and workforce-ready, it’s long past time to offer universal quality prekindergarten followed by universal full-day kindergarten in the United States. A while back the bestselling book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten touched a chord with its simple messages: Share everything. Clean up your own mess. Continue Reading →

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Power is in your person

 

By Marian Wright Edelman

Guest Commentator

 

“You know, when we started the farm workers movement, I remember going to many conferences, and people [kept asking] how do we do this?… We had to convince people that they have power. “Of course, when you say to a farm worker who doesn’t speak the English language, doesn’t have formal education, doesn’t have any assets, doesn’t have any money, that he or she has power, they say, ‘What kind of power do I have?’ And so what we had to convince the workers is you do have power, but that power is in your person. “That power is in your person, and when you come together with other workers, other people, and they also understand that they have power, this is the way that changes are made. But you can’t do it by yourself. Continue Reading →

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Hate-filled ‘Patriot’ groups still on the rise

 

 

By Marian Wright Edelman

Guest Commentator

 

The growth in hate groups and the use of their divisive and negative language in the mainstream political and media arena is cause for national alarm. Already this year several horrendous hate crimes, possible hate crimes, and crimes committed by people with ties to hate groups have received national attention. In the first week of May a fifteen-month-old girl was shot and killed along with her mother, grandmother, and her mother’s boyfriend, allegedly by Arizona White supremacist, border vigilante, and longtime neo-Nazi J.T. Ready. The murders were the apparent result of domestic violence by a man the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Mark Potok called “a violent thug who typifies the very worst element in the American nativist movement.”

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, hate crime charges were filed in April against two White men who went on a Good Friday shooting spree in a Black neighborhood randomly targeting and killing three Black victims and injuring two more. In Jackson, Mississippi, three White men pled guilty to federal hate crime charges in March after admitting to a pattern of harassing and assaulting Black people that ended with one of the men killing James C. Anderson in June 2011 by driving over him with a pickup truck. Continue Reading →

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We need Black solutions to Black problems – Critical thinking in the Black Independence Movement

 

 

“Salvation for a race, nation or class must come from within.” 

          — A. Philip Randolph

 

Unless you are Herman Cain, you know that the Civil Rights Movement was ignited by young people tired of going through back doors, tired of being refused service at lunch counters, tired of living in the prison of Jim Crow. The older of us were moved to act when we saw our babies being shot with water cannons, our babies being beaten by police in riot gear. When we saw our babies maimed by vicious, hungry police dogs, their mothers and fathers said, “Not our babies!”

News to the wise: Our young are on the move again, this time against the now semi-invisible Jim Crow — the cradle-to-prison pipeline, the divestiture of public education and concurrent divestiture of the surrounding neighborhoods, the dispensing of guns to children too young to apply for a driver’s license. They are on the move against disproportionate minority contact with the police and against systems sustained off of Black misery. They are on the move against the tides that for so long have bound their ancestors — not just Harriet Tubman but us, their ancestors still here on earth. Continue Reading →

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