Honoring Marian Wright Edelman for International Women’s Day

I am joining the call to #makeithappen. As remarkable women around the world are recognized during International Women’s Day 2015, I can think of so many who have created, influenced, advocated and led, with passion, grace and focus and who have paved the way for each of us. But, the one woman I must honor is Marian Wright Edelman. For decades, Ms. Edelman has paved the way for women to become leaders, has advocated for the rights of disadvantaged Americans, and has dedicated her career to being a champion for children.

Many years ago, as I was beginning my work in child abuse prevention, I came across a poster from the Children’s Defense Fund, with a message so compelling that, to this day, it is seared into my memory. It featured an image of a baby with a bull’s-eye on its diaper, and read, “When it’s budget cutting time, they always start with the easiest targets.” Ms. Edelman founded the Children’s Defense Fund in 1973, as an outgrowth of the civil rights movement and to “challenge the United States to raise its standards by improving policies and programs for children.”

Through the years, Ms. Edelman’s accomplishments in the legal and human rights fields have underscored her diligence to serving our nation’s youth. Millions of children have as their voice the woman who founded an organization that simply demands that we must “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.”

Marian Wright Edelman accepts no excuses when addressing needs of children and youth. It is our duty to make their safety and well-being a priority. Through research, independent analyses and meaningful statistics that represent the state of youth in this country, Ms. Edelman continues to lead important conversations among decision makers. Her team at the Children’s Defense Fund team is both dynamic and heroic, challenging ineffective policies or inadequate funding and demanding that we stand up for our nation’s children.

Let’s all work toward making children a priority in Congress, in our communities of faith, and in our cities and assure a safe and nurturing place for each child to grow and thrive, as we honor Marian Wright Edelman for the 2015 International Women’s Day.