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Marian Wright Edelman

Marian Wright Edelman

Founded the Children's Defense Fund

Marian Wright Edelman, born in 1939 in South Carolina, is a towering figure in the fight for children's rights and racial justice. Her journey began in the segregated South, where witnessing firsthand the injustices faced by Black communities fueled her unwavering commitment to equality.

Fueled by her father's dedication to social justice and a deep faith, Edelman pursued law, becoming the first Black woman admitted to the Mississippi bar in 1964. She immersed herself in the Civil Rights Movement, working with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the Poor People's Campaign. Witnessing the plight of children during this period ignited a passion that shaped her future.


In 1973, Edelman founded the Children's Defense Fund (CDF), a powerful advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring every child has access to healthcare, education, and a safe environment. Under her leadership, the CDF has become a national force, advocating for policy changes, raising public awareness, and providing direct services to children and families. Edelman's tireless efforts have earned her numerous accolades, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


Marian Wright Edelman's legacy is a beacon of dedication to children's rights, marked by her founding of the Children's Defense Fund. Through this powerful organization, she has tirelessly advocated for policies and programs that benefit all children, regardless of their race, income, or background. Edelman's contributions to the Civil Rights Movement, notably alongside Dr. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), have been significant, as she fervently advocated for racial justice. Her lifelong commitment to equality is evident in her unwavering efforts to dismantle systemic barriers and ensure equal opportunities for all individuals, especially the most vulnerable members of society.


Marian Wright Edelman's unwavering dedication continues to inspire generations of advocates and policymakers. Her legacy reminds us that even one person, armed with passion and commitment, can make a profound difference in the lives of countless children. Her voice continues to resonate, urging us to fight for a world where every child has the chance to thrive.

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