Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Georgia State: Children’s Defense Fund President to Speak at College of Education Lecture

Marian Wright Edelman, Founder and President, Children’s Defense Fund
20th Annual Benjamin E. Mays Lecture
6 p.m. on Monday (Oct. 13)
Rialto Center for the Arts, 80 Forsyth St.

Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund, will be the keynote speaker at the College of Education’s 20th annual Benjamin E. Mays Lecture.
Free and open to the public, the lecture will be held at 6 p.m. on Monday (Oct. 13) at Georgia State University’s Rialto Center for the Arts. During her talk, Edelman will discuss trends in urban education.

“It is crucial that we address today’s educational crisis that America’s children face,” Edelman said. “Many of our children can’t read at grade level and our schools are now arresting children for infractions that used to be dealt with in the principal’s office. This isn’t just a problem for students, but a problem that affects all of our communities.”

A book signing will be held after the lecture for Edelman’s latest publication, The Sea is So Wide and My Boat is So Small: Charting a Course for the Next Generation, in stores now. Edelman has been an advocate for disadvantaged Americans for her entire professional life. Under her leadership, the Children’s Defense Fund has become the nation’s strongest voice for children and families.

The annual lecture series, sponsored by Georgia State’s College of Education and Alonzo A. Crim Center for Urban Educational Excellence, began in 1989 to encourage the discussion of issues facing urban educational leaders. The annual event not only honors the memory of Mays, an Atlanta educator, but also promotes his philosophy of excellence in the education of those typically least served by society.

“Spanning over 30 years, Mrs. Edelman’s work speaks to the need for caring families and communities to give our children the best possible start in life that will insure a successful transition to adulthood,” said Gwendolyn Benson, associate dean of the College of Education.

A graduate of Spelman College and Yale Law School, Edelman began her career in the mid-60s when, as the first black woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar, she directed the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund office in Jackson, Miss. In l968, she moved to Washington, D.C., as counsel for the Poor People’s Campaign, which Martin Luther King, Jr. began organizing before his death. In l973, Edelman began the Children’s Defense Fund. She has received many honorary degrees and awards including the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Robert F. Kennedy Lifetime Achievement Award for her writings, which include eight books.

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