SPEAKING FEE RANGE ** Please note that while this speaker’s specific speaking fee falls within the range posted above (for Continental U.S. based events), fees are subject to change. For current fee information or international event fees (which are generally 50-75% more than U.S based event fees), please contact us.
$30,000 to $50,000
BOOK MARIAN WRIGHT EDELMAN
SPEAKING FEE RANGE*
$30,000 to $50,000
Book Marian Wright Edelman
- A veteran of the civil rights movement and of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign.
- Founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund, Edelman has spent over 40 years advocating for children in need.
- Honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 2000.
- Winner of the Robert F. Kennedy Lifetime Achievement Award for her remarkable body of published work for both adults and children.
Marian Wright Edelman has been a life-long advocate for disadvantaged Americans and one of the nation’s most prominent champions of children and families. As founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), she has led efforts to ensure children receive a healthy start in life, advocating for equality of opportunity, strong educational institutions, good moral foundations, and a safe environment.
Edelman’s work with the CDF emerged from her earlier efforts as a pioneering lawyer and civil rights activist. A graduate of Spelman College and Yale Law School, Edelman was the first black woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar. She began her legal career in the mid-1960s as director of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund office in Jackson, Mississippi. She became legal counsel for the Poor People’s Campaign, an advocacy campaign the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. began organizing shortly before his assassination. Edelman then founded the Washington Research Project, a public interest law firm from which the CDF would emerge in 1973. Also influential in academic circles, she served two years as the Director of the Center for Law and Education at Harvard University.
Edelman holds over 100 honorary degrees and many awards, including the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Prize, a MacArthur Foundation Prize Fellowship, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor, which she was awarded in 2000. She has received the Robert F. Kennedy Lifetime Achievement Award for her remarkable body of published work, which ranges from Families in Peril: An Agenda for Social Change, The Measure of Our Success: A Letter to My Children and Yours, and Stand for Children to literature geared toward children such as I’m Your Child, God: Prayers for Our Children and I Can Make a Difference: A Treasury to Inspire our Children.
A board member of the Robin Hood Foundation and the Association to Benefit Children, Edelman is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.
"Her namesake is Marian Anderson, one of the greatest American singers of all time. The power and range of this Marian's voice is even greater. It brought Robert Kennedy to Mississippi, helped to organize the Poor People's Campaign, inspired Hillary and thousands of other citizens, young and old, to join her through the years in the crusade that has become known as the Children's Defense Fund, the base from which she has changed the future for millions of America's children, by grassroots actions and successful lobbying in Congress, for health care, child care, education, and so much more.
"Marian Wright Edelman has lived a life of giving. In the process, she has built a family of distinguished citizen-givers. She is a tireless advocate, a driving force, a crusader of conscience. Like her namesake, Marian's voice is always strong and true, singing that we are all children of God and, therefore, must protect all our children."
President Bill Clinton
Few, if any, Americans are more qualified than Marian Wright Edelman to speak to the enduring problems of poverty among our nation’s children – or of the capacity each of us has to make a difference. Certainly none can speak with greater eloquence. Edelman brings the cadence of the civil rights movement’s greatest orators and the wisdom borne of a half-century working on behalf of America’s poor. Her rich imagery connects with listeners on a profound level, compelling her audiences not only to listen, but also to act.
Edelman feels a calling to enlighten others about the current state of America’s children, and especially about conditions faced by those living in poverty. She also enjoys charting a course for the future. Even the toughest problems have solutions, if Americans exercise the will to address them. Having spent a lifetime creatively composing plans to resolve these enduring problems, Edelman values her opportunities to share these ideas with others.
In addition, Edelman excels at investing her audiences with full awareness of their potential. Child poverty is not an intractable condition. We can creatively and constructively take steps to eradicate child poverty in our lifetimes. Edelman inspires her listeners with greater understanding of how they can make a positive difference.
The Measure of our Success: A Letter to My Children and Yours
To help parents chart a course for their children based on traditional values—self-reliance, family, hard work, justice, the pursuit of knowledge and of brotherhood—Edelman, founder and president of the Childrens Defense Fund, effectively recounts her experience and vision in essays variously addressed to her own children, to all children and to parents. Edelman, who grew up in the segregated South and was the first black woman admitted to the Mississippi bar, recalls the community of her childhood where one child's accomplishments gave joy to all, where neighbors took care of each other and where parents instilled a sense of responsibility in their offspring. In the introduction the author's son Jonah examines the value and pressure of being raised by an African American mother and a Jewish father.
Lanterns: A Memoir of Mentors
Marian Wright Edelman, "the most influential children's advocate in the country" (The Washington Post), shares stories from her life at the center of this century's most dramatic civil rights struggles. She pays tribute to the extraordinary personal mentors who helped light her way: Martin Luther King, Jr., Robert F. Kennedy, Fannie Lou Hamer, William Sloane Coffin, Ella Baker, Mae Bertha Carter, and many others.
She celebrates the lives of the great Black women of Bennettsville, South Carolina—Miz Tee, Miz Lucy, Miz Kate—who along with her parents formed a formidable and loving network of community support for the young Marian Wright as a Black girl growing up in the segregated South. We follow the author to Spelman College in the late 1950s, when the school was a hotbed of civil rights activism, and where, through excerpts from her honest and passionate college journal, we witness a national leader in the making and meet the people who inspired and empowered her, including Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, Howard Zinn, and Charles E. Merrill, Jr.
Lanterns takes us to Mississippi in the 1960s, where Edelman was the first and only Black woman lawyer. Her account of those years is a riveting first-hand addition to the literature of civil rights: "The only person I recognized in the menacing crowd as I walked towards the front courthouse steps was [a] veteran New York Times reporter. He neither acknowledged me nor met my eyes. I knew then what it was like to be a poor Black person in Mississippi: alone." And we follow Edelman as she leads Bobby Kennedy on his fateful trip to see Mississippi poverty and hunger for himself, a powerful personal experience for the young RFK that helped awaken a nation's conscience to child hunger and poverty.
Lanterns is illustrated with thirty of the author's personal photographs and includes "A Parent's Pledge" and "Twenty-five More Lessons for Life," an inspiration to all of us—parents, grandparents, teachers, religious and civic leaders—to guide, protect, and love our children every day so that they will become, in Marian Wright Edelman's moving vision, the healing agents for national transformation.