Newsletter

Stay up to date with the latest from MAKERS delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for new stories from trailblazing women, a big dose of inspiration, and exclusive MAKERS content.

Newsletter Confirmation

Thank you for joining! Please check your inbox for our special welcome letter
with exclusive updates from MAKERS.

MAKERS Moment

Not Everyone's Parents

Not Everyone's Parents

More From Marian

In this video

Edelman talks about the extraordinary example and expectations her parents set for her and her sister.

Marian's Biography

Most meaningful advice received: “From my father: ‘Follow the need. God runs a full employment economy and that service is the rent that each of us pays for living.’"
Two Role Models: “Two brilliant slave women - Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman.”
Proudest Accomplishment: Her children
First Paying Job: NAACP Legal Defense Fund

Marian Wright Edelman is a renowned activist who has been fighting for the rights of children for the last 40 years. Through the Children’s Defense Fund that she established in 1973, she has been a leading national voice for disadvantaged children and families.
Edelman grew up in South Carolina, the youngest of five children of a Baptist preacher who taught her early on about the importance of serving others and pursuing an education. As a graduate of Spelman College and Yale Law School, she became the first African-American woman admitted to the Mississippi bar in 1963. She began her legal career in the as an attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and served as the director of the Jackson, Mississippi office, defending her peers in the Civil Rights Movement, as well as helping to establish the local Head Start program.
 
In 1968, she moved to Washington, D.C. as counsel for the Poor People's March that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. began organizing before his death. Out of her work on poverty with Dr. King, she formed the Washington Research Project, a public interest law firm and the parent body of the Children's Defense Fund (CDF), a non-profit child advocacy organization that has now worked for nearly 40 years to ensure a level playing field for all of America’s children.
 
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, and Hold My Hand: Prayers for Building a Movement to Leave No Child Behind."

Related Videos

Mia Herndon
Mia Herndon
Feminist Organizer

Mia Herndon is the former Executive Director at Third Wave Foundation, a national feminist fund dedicated to supporting the social justice vision of young women, transgender and ge...

Kirsten Gillibrand
Kirsten Gillibrand
U.S. Senator (D-New York)

Kirsten Gillibrand is a United States Senator from New York and a member of the Democratic Party. Prior to her career in politics, she worked as a securities lawyer in New York Cit...

Elizabeth Warren
Elizabeth Warren
United States Senator, Massachusetts

As a young mother, Elizabeth Warren went to class at Rutgers Law School while her husband worked at IBM. In 1978, the family relocated to Houston, where Warren started teaching at ...

Mae Jemison
Mae Jemison
First African-American Woman in Space

Growing up in the southside of Chicago, Mae Jemison was always curious about space. After graduating from Stanford University, she became a medical doctor and worked in Liberia and...