Welcome to our first Activist Spotlight! Each month, we’ll blog about an amazing activist. Have suggestions for a contemporary superstar we could highlight? Leave us a comment, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
This month, we’re celebrating the activist life of Marian Wright Edelman. In the mid-1960s, after graduating from Spelman College and then Yale Law School, Edelman became the first black woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar! She also directed the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund in Jackson, Mississippi; Edelman parlayed her law degree into a career as a passionate and effective foot soldier in the struggle for civil rights in the South. In 1968 she moved to Washington, D.C., but did not leave the struggle behind. In D.C., she provided legal counsel for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign.
Edelman was, from the very start of her career, deeply invested in improving children’s lives. After two years at the helm of Harvard’s Center for Law and Education, barely a decade after women could first receive Harvard diplomas, Edelman founded the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF). Under her able leadership, the CDF analyzes how government policies affect children and families from all racial and income backgrounds. It then works to build bipartisan support for policies that help children receive the education, medical care, and nutritional support they require to break the cycle of poverty.
Edelman has advocated for vulnerable, disadvantaged children and families throughout the course of her life as a lawyer. Her example inspires us to be a constant voice for the causes we believe in, and to continually strive to build a better life for everyone in America.
An editorial aside from a History major writing about an obscure civil rights activist: I did not choose Marian Wright Edelman for our February Activist Spotlight because she is African American. Yes, February may be Black History Month, but I believe that the contributions of all Americans should be celebrated and taught each month. All of us, and all of our groups, have together woven the tangled tapestry of American history.