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Marian Wright Edelman to speak at ElizabethtownMarian Wright Edelman to speak at Elizabethtown

Founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), Marian Wright Edelman, will be the keynote speaker at the 2013 Leffler Memorial Lecture at Elizabethtown College. Edelman’s lecture—slated for 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 20—will focus on the importance of defending and addressing the needs of children and how the defense of children in the United States relates to issues of diversity and inclusion. The Carlos R. and Georgiana E. Leffler Memorial Lecture features speakers of national and international renown, who enrich the education of students and create meaningful dialogue within the community.

Edelman is a graduate of Spelman College and Yale Law School, and was the first black woman to be admitted to the Mississippi Bar. She began her professional career in the mid-1960s as the director of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund office in Jackson, Mississippi. After moving to Washington D.C. in 1968, Edelman took a position as counsel for the Poor People’s Campaign, which was organized by Dr. Martin Luther King. Soon after, Edelman founded the Washington Research Project, a public interest law firm and the parent of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), which she founded in 1973.

Edelman served on both the Board of Trustees of Spelman College—which she chaired from 1976 to 1987—and the Yale University Corporation. She has been awarded more than one hundred honorary degrees and many other distinctions including the Heinz Award. She was the recipient of the 2000 Presidential Medal of Freedom and also received the Robert F. Kennedy Lifetime Achievement Award for her numerous writings.

Currently, Edelman is a board member of the Robin Hood Foundation, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities and the Association to Benefit Children. Thirty-nine years after its founding, Edelman continues to serve as President of CDF. The organization works to move children out of poverty, prevent abuse and neglect and ensure that children have equal access to adequate health care, education and receive a strong moral and spiritual foundation. CDF includes numerous initiatives geared toward furthering this mission, including the Cradle to Prison Pipeline© Campaign, the CDF Freedom Schools© Program and the Black Community Crusade for Children.  

The Leffler Lecture will take place Wednesday, March 20 at 7:30 p.m. in the Leffler Chapel and Performance Center. Tickets are free and must be reserved by calling 717-361-4757.

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