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Children Defense Fund founder/president to speak in Memphis

Dr. Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), will speak at Mount Olive CME Church on Friday (March 18). Dr. Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), will speak at Mount Olive CME Church on Friday (March 18).

 Dr. Marian Wright Edelman

“We are pleased to have a global advocate and author such as Dr. Edelman speak during our Spring Convocation,” said Presiding Bishop of the First Episcopal District Lawrence Reddick.

“What she has done with the Children’s Defense Fund is no less than phenomenal. She took what was once a small grassroots organization and grew it into a national catalyst for change in childhood education.

The First Episcopal District Spring Convocation of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church serves as a meeting of clergy and laity from the states of Tennessee and Arkansas. Edelman’s address keynotes a program that begins at the church at 538 Linden St. at 11:45 a.m.

“She (Edelman) is a true testament to what one person with a vision, talent, and faith can accomplish,” said Reddick.

Under Dr. Edelman’s leadership, CDF is considered by many as the nation’s strongest voice for children and families. The Children’s Defense Fund’s Leave No Child Behind® mission is to “ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start, and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.”

A graduate of Spelman College and Yale Law School, Dr. Edelman began her career in the mid-60s when, as the first black 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. She founded the Washington Research Project, a public interest law firm and the parent body of the Children’s Defense Fund.  For two years she served as the Director of the Center for Law and Education at Harvard University and in 1973 began CDF.

Dr. Edelman has received over a hundred 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 which include:  “Families in Peril: An Agenda for Social Change”; “The Measure of Our Success: A Letter to My Children and Yours”; “Guide My Feet: Meditations and Prayers on Loving and Working for Children”; “Stand for Children”; “Lanterns: A Memoir of Mentors”; “Hold My Hand:  Prayers for Building a Movement to Leave No Child Behind”; “I’m Your Child, God:  Prayers for Our Children”; “I Can Make a Difference: A Treasury to Inspire Our Children”; and “The Sea Is So Wide and My Boat Is So Small: Charting a Course for the Next Generation.”

(For more information, contact Bishop Lawrence Reddick at 901-345-4114 or 205-515-7322.)

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