Awarded: April 2000
(b. June 6, 1939)
Marian Wright Edelman is the founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF). She has been an advocate for the disadvantaged for her entire professional career. Edelman was the first black woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar and began her career directing the NAACP Legal Defense Fund office in Jackson, Miss. In 1968, she became counsel for the Poor People’s March that Martin Luther King, Jr. was organizing before his death. She founded the Washington Research Project, the parent body of the CDF. She served as the Director of the Center for Law and Education at Harvard University and began the CDF in 1973. Edelman is the recipient of numerous awards and honorary degrees, including the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Prize.