Known as the voice for children, Marian Wright Edelman was the founder and President of the Children’s Defense Fund.  She was one of five children and her father was a Baptist preacher who taught his children that Christianity required service in this world.  Before he died, when Marian was fourteen, his last words to her were:  “Don’t let anything get in the way of your education.” 

Marian went on to study at law at Yale and was the first African American woman admitted to theMississippistate bar.  She was an advocate for social justice and helping the poor.  It was her focus and passion issues relating to child development and children in poverty which led her to establish the Children’s Defense Fund.  She became the voice for poor, minority and handicapped children.

Here are some of her inspiring quotes:

If you don’t like the way the world is, you change it. You have an obligation to change it. You just do it one step at a time.

If we don’t stand up for children, then we don’t stand for much.

I’m doing what I think I was put on this earth to do. And I’m really grateful to have something that I’m passionate about and that I think is profoundly important.

You really can change the world if you care enough.

Service is what life is all about.

When I fight about what is going on in the neighborhood, or when I fight about what is happening to other people’s children, I’m doing that because I want to leave a community and a world that is better than the one I found.

The legacy I want to leave is a child-care system that says that no kid is going to be left alone or left unsafe.

Children don’t vote but adults who do must stand up and vote for them.

I don’t care what my children choose to do professionally, just as long as within their choices they understand they’ve got to give something back.


If you as parents cut corners, your children will too. If you lie, they will too. If you spend all your money on yourselves and tithe no portion of it for charities, colleges, churches, synagogues, and civic causes, your children won’t either. And if parents snicker at racial and gender jokes, another generation will pass on the poison adults still have not had the courage to snuff out.

Being considerate of others will take you and your children further in life than any college or professional degree.


When Jesus Christ asked little children to come to him, he didn’t say only rich children, or White children, or children with two-parent families, or children who didn’t have a mental or physical handicap. He said, “Let all children come unto me.”


The 1990s struggle is forAmerica’s conscience and future — a future that is being determined right now in the bodies and minds and spirits of every American child.

The fact is we made dramatic progress in the 1960s in eradicating hunger and improving the health status of children, and then we just stopped trying.


Investing in [children] is not a national luxury or a national choice. It’s a national necessity. If the foundation of your house is crumbling, you don’t say you can’t afford to fix it while you’re building astronomically expensive fences to protect it from outside enemies. The issue is not are we going to pay — it’s are we going to pay now, up front, or are we going to pay a whole lot more later on.


Parents have become so convinced educators know what is best for children that they forget that they themselves are really the experts.


The old notion that children are the private property of parents dies very slowly. In reality, no parent raises a child alone. How many of us nice middle-class folk could make it without our mortgage reduction? That’s a government subsidy of families, yet we resent putting money directly into public housing. We take our deduction for dependent care yet resent putting money directly into child care. Common sense and necessity are beginning to erode old notions of the private invasion of family life, because so many families are in trouble. – 1993 interview, Psychology Today.

The outside world told black kids when I was growing up that we weren’t worth anything. But our parents said it wasn’t so, and our churches and our schoolteachers said it wasn’t so. They believed in us, and we, therefore, believed in ourselves.

No one, Eleanor Roosevelt said, can make you feel inferior without your consent. Never give it.


Today, we salute this remarkable woman who has demonstrated God’s love and regard for the poor and disadvantaged. 



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