Marian Wright Edelman

Marian Wright Edelman with medal

Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Washington, D.C.-based Children’s Defense Fund, has been an advocate for children’s rights and the disadvantaged for decades. The nonprofit Children's Defense Fund, which Edelman established in 1973, has become the nation’s leading advocacy organization for children and families, championing policies and programs to lift children from poverty, protect them from abuse and neglect and ensure their access to health care and quality education.

Edelman, a graduate of Spelman College and Yale Law School, began her career in the mid-1960s when, as the first black woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar, directed the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund office in Jackson, Mississippi. 

Edelman has received more than 100 honorary degrees and many awards, including the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Prize, the Heinz Award and a MacArthur Foundation Prize Fellowship. In 2000, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award, and the Robert F. Kennedy Lifetime Achievement Award for her writings.

In collaboration with The International Journal for Ethical Leadership (IJEL), Marian Wright Edelman also published an article titled The State of America's Children.


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