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Americans Who Tell the Truth :: Marian Wright Edelman

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Robert Shetterly's portrait of Marian Wright Edelman
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“What's wrong with our children? Adults telling children to be honest while lying and cheating. Adults telling children to not be violent while marketing and glorifying violence… I believe that adult hypocrisy is the biggest problem children face in America.”
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Marian Wright Edelman
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25 of 100
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Children's Advocate (1939—  )

Marian Wright, the youngest of five children, grew up in Bennettsville, South Carolina, where her father was a Baptist minister. In 1960 she graduated from Spelman College in Atlanta; three years later she had a law degree from Yale. The first black woman to be admitted to the Mississippi Bar, she directed the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund office in Jackson.

In 1968 she moved to Washington, D.C. to serve as counsel for the Poor People's Campaign organized by Martin Luther King, Jr. That same year she married Peter Edelman, a former assistant to Robert F. Kennedy whom she had met during her years in Mississippi. She founded the Washington Research Project, a public interest law firm and parent body of the Children's Defense Fund which she established in 1973. As founder, leader and principal spokesperson for the CDF, Mrs. Edelman worked to persuade Congress to overhaul foster care, support adoption, improve child care and protect children who are handicapped, homeless, abused or neglected. A philosophy of service absorbed during her childhood undergirds all her efforts. As she expresses it, “If you don't like the way the world is, you have an obligation to change it. Just do it one step at a time.”

If the world does not always seem ready to follow her example, it has, at least, accorded her many honors and awards. She has received the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Prize, the Heinz Award, a MacArthur Foundation prize Fellowship, the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2000) and the Robert F. Kennedy Lifetime Achievement Award for her writings. She is the author of seven books, including:
Families in Peril: An agenda for Social Change; The Measure of Our Success: A Letter to My Children and Yours; and I'm Your Child, God: Prayers for Our Children. She holds 65 honorary degrees.

She continues to advocate youth pregnancy prevention, child-care funding, prenatal care, greater parental responsibility in teaching values and curtailing children's exposure to the barrage of violent images transmitted by mass media.

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See the full set of Robert Shetterly's portraits at www.americanswhotellthetruth.org.

Tools for Teaching: see the acompanying curriculum materials with suggestions on how to use the portraits and biographies of these American truth-tellers in your classroom.
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Americans Who Tell the Truth ::

Robert Shetterly's series highlights Americans past and present whose dignity, courage, and honesty have shaped this country.

This beautiful coffee-table book is an eloquent collection of portraits and stirring words of these brave citizens from all walks of life.
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A special YES! selection of Greeting Cards from the series in sets of 8 (with envelopes).

Sets feature high quality prints of the portraits, complete with quotes and biographies.

Posters also available from the artist.
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