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Marian Wright Edelman

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Information about Marian Wright Edelman

Profile image of Marian Wright Edelman

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Foundation Chief Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Green
Favorite Food:
Fried Chicken
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall, Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Anywhere Near Water, Mountains
Favorite Quote:
Service Is A Rent You Pay For Living.

Birthplace

Born:
6/6/1939
Birth Location:
Bennettsville, South Carolina

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
Occupation(s):
Foundation Chief Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Green
Favorite Food:
Fried Chicken
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall, Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Anywhere Near Water, Mountains
Favorite Quote:
Service Is A Rent You Pay For Living.

Birthplace

Born:
6/6/1939
Birth Location:
Bennettsville
See how Marian Wright Edelman is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Marian Wright Edelman, founder and President of the Children's Defense Fund, was born on June 6, 1939, in Bennettsville, South Carolina. Edelman was the youngest of five children and credits her father with instilling in her an obligation to right wrongs. When African Americans in Bennettsville were not allowed to enter city parks, Arthur Wright, her father, built a park for African American children behind his church.

Edelman is a graduate of Spelman College and Yale Law School. While working as director of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund office in Jackson, Mississippi, she became the first African American female admitted to the Mississippi State Bar. She also became nationally recognized as an advocate for Head Start at this time. In 1968, Edelman moved to Washington, D.C., and subsequently became counsel to the Poor People's Campaign that was organized by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She founded the Washington Research Project (WRP), where she focused on lobbying Congress for child and family nutrition programs and expanding the Head Start program. In 1973, the Washington Research Project became the Children's Defense Fund (CDF), the United States' leading advocacy group for children. As president of the CDF, Edelman has worked to decrease teenage pregnancy, increase Medicaid coverage for poor children, and secure government funding for programs such as Head Start.

Edelman has served as the Director of the Center for Law and Education at Harvard University and is the first African American female to have been on the board of directors of Yale University. Edelman has written many articles and books, including the autobiographical New York Times best-seller, The Measure of Our Success: A Letter to My Children and Yours

See how Marian Wright Edelman is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Marian Edelman interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Marian Edelman lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Marian Edelman recalls her father and other family members
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Marian Edelman talks about her mother's family and memories of her great-grandmother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Marian Edelman describes how her parents met
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Marian Edelman recalls her home and her siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Marian Edelman describes life with her siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Marian Edelman recalls the tradition of independent women in her family
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Marian Edelman describes her parents' educational influence
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Marian Edelman recalls the church community of her youth
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Marian Edelman decribes her personality as a child
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Marian Edelman details her father death
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Marian Edelman talks about her difficult first year at Spelman College
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Marian Edelman talks about her Spelman experience
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Marian Edelman talks more about her Spelman experience
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Marian Edelman talks about her civil rights experience while at Spellman
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Marian Edelman talks about her Yale experience
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Marian Edelman details taking the bar exam in Mississippi and her activities in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Marian Edelman discusses the founding of the Children's Defense Fund
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Marian Edelman discusses the accomplishments of the Children's Defense Fund
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Marian Edelman talks about her legacy
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Photo - Marian Wright Edelman watches as two children play chess, ca. 1980s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Photo - Marian Wright Edelman with Mrs. Mae Bertha Carter, ca. 1990s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Photo - Marian Wright Edelman
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Photo - Marian Wright Edelman posing in front of Mary McLeod Bethune Statue in Lincoln Park, Washington, D.C., ca. 1970s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Photo - Marian Wright Edelman in her mid-twenties, 1966
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Photo - Marian Wright Edelman in a jail cell after a sit-in, Atlanta, Georgia, March, 1960
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Photo - Marian Wright Edelman in a jail cell after a sit-in, Atlanta, Georgia, March, 1960 (detail)
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Photo - Marian Wright Edelman with her family at age six or seven
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Photo - Marian Wright Edelman at age six or seven
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Photo - Marian Wright Edelman with family and friends at her graduation from Spelman College, Atlanta, Georgia, 1960
  • Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Photo - Marian Wright Edelman with her Brownie Scout troop, ca. late 1940s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Photo - Marian Wright Edelman with her mother and siblings, ca. 1970s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 13 - Photo - Marian Wright Edelman at her Yale University Law School Graduation (?), New Haven, Connecticut
  • Tape: 3 Story: 14 - Photo - Marian Wright Edelman at her Yale University Law School Graduation (?), New Haven, Connecticut
  • Tape: 3 Story: 15 - Photo - Marian Wright Edelman speaking at a Children's Defense Fund rally, Washington, D.C., ca. 1990s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 16 - Photo - Portrait of Marian Wright Edelman, 1999
  • Tape: 3 Story: 17 - Photo - Marian Wright Edelman's father, Reverend Arthur Jerome Wright, Sr.
  • Tape: 3 Story: 18 - Photo - Marian Wright Edelman's mother, Maggie Leola Bowen Wright
  • Tape: 3 Story: 19 - Photo - Marian Wright Edelman as a bridesmaid at her sister, Olive Wright's wedding, June, 1950
  • Tape: 3 Story: 20 - Photo - Marian Wright Edelman's parents with Reverend Riddick at the First Home for the Elderly, Bennettsville, South Carolina
  • Tape: 3 Story: 21 - Photo - Marian Wright Edelman with Edward Steichen and Carl Sandburg, Moscow, USSR, 1959
  • Tape: 3 Story: 22 - Photo - Marian Wright Edelman and Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, recipients of honorary degrees from SUNY-Old Westbury, New York
  • Tape: 3 Story: 23 - Photo - Marian Wright Edelman at a meeting in Mississippi for the NAACP Legal Defense Education Fund, ca. late 1960s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 24 - Photo - Marian Wright Edelman visiting families in Canton, Mississippi, ca. late 1960s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 25 - Photo - Marian Wright Edelman and Senator Robert F. Kennedy visiting hungry families along the Mississippi Delta, April 11, 1967
  • Tape: 3 Story: 26 - Photo - Marian Wright Edelman weds Peter Edelman in Virginia, July 14, 1968
  • Tape: 3 Story: 27 - Photo - Marian Wright Edelman with Robert G. Clark at Mississippi Capitol Building, Jackson, Mississippi, January 1968
  • Tape: 3 Story: 28 - Photo - Marian Wright Edelman with her family and Miss Amy at her Washington, D.C. home
  • Tape: 3 Story: 29 - Photo - Marian Wright Edelman at the first Stand For Children Day march, Washington, D.C., June 1, 1996
  • Tape: 3 Story: 30 - Photo - Marian Wright Edelman at the first Stand For Children Day march, Washington, D.C., June 1, 1996 (detail)
  • Tape: 3 Story: 31 - Photo - Cover of 'Marian Wright Edelman: The Making of a Crusader', by Beatrice Siegel, 1995
  • Tape: 3 Story: 32 - Photo - Marian Wright Edelman's high school yearbook photo
  • Tape: 3 Story: 33 - Photo - Marian Wright Edelman with high school friends Romaine Covington, Douglass Gregg and Ruth Thomas
  • Tape: 3 Story: 34 - Photo - Marian Wright Edelman with student civil rights leaders Julian Bond, Lonnie King and Ben Brown, 1960
  • Tape: 3 Story: 35 - Photo - Marian Wright Edelman with Harrison E. Salisbury from the 'New York Times' after receiving the 'Mademoiselle' Magazine Annual Merit Award, 1965
  • Tape: 3 Story: 36 - Photo - A mule train arriving for the Poor People's Campaign, Washington, D.C., 1968
  • Tape: 3 Story: 37 - Photo - 'Resurrection City,' as part of the Poor People's Campaign in Washington, D.C., 1968
  • Tape: 3 Story: 38 - Photo - Marian Wright Edelman and others at a White House Rose Garden signing ceremony with President Bill Clinton, Washington, D.C., 1993