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Marian Wright Edelman's Child Watch® Columns

Marian Wright Edelman

Marian Wright Edelman is a lifelong advocate for disadvantaged Americans and is the President of CDF. Under her leadership, CDF has become the nation's strongest voice for children and families.

Her Child Watch column is sent every Friday to subscribers and posted to The Huffington Post weekly.


Child Watch Column Archives

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  • 06/15/12
    Child Watch® Column: "Detours and Danger Warnings on the Road from Slavery to Freedom"
    On June 16th, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio is hosting a Juneteenth celebration commemorating the jubilant day in 1865 when the last Black slaves got word they were free more than two and a half years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. On June 17th, labor, civil rights, education, and community leaders, child advocates, and citizens are joining together in a silent march in New York City to protest the New York Police Department’s “stop and frisk” policing tactics. These two events cover very different places and times but are connected as part of the slow, hard and unfinished journey towards freedom and racial justice in our nation. Although we have come a very long way on the arduous road from slavery to freedom, we still have a long way to go.
  • 06/08/12
    Child Watch® Column: "Tolerance of Poverty"
    The latest edition of UNICEF's report on child poverty showed the United States ranks second out of 35 developed countries on the scale of what economists call “relative child poverty” with 23.1 percent of its children living in poverty. Only Romania ranked higher. It was another shameful reminder that, as economist Sheldon Danziger put it, “Among rich countries, the U.S. is exceptional. We are exceptional in our tolerance of poverty.”
  • 06/01/12
    Child Watch® Column: "Freedom Summer"
    When Kyla was in the third grade, she failed the state-required end-of-grade tests at her Charlotte, North Carolina elementary school. Her grandmother was worried that summer school wouldn’t be fun, but then she heard about the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Freedom Schools® program, and she knew Kyla...
  • 05/25/12
    Child Watch® Column: "Time to Stop 'Stop and Frisk'"
    This Father’s Day, June 17th, the Children’s Defense Fund-New York and I will be joining George Gresham, President of 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and the Children’s Defense Fund national board member, Ben Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP, Rev. Al Sharpton, Founder and President of the National Action Network, other advocates, elected officials, union leaders, and citizens to mount a silent march down Fifth Avenue to protest the New York City Police Department’s harsh stop and frisk policy.
  • 05/18/12
    Child Watch® Column: "No Holiday for Hunger"
    Summer is usually imagined as a carefree time for children and families—a lazy, relaxing season filled with cookouts, backyard picnics, and trips to the ice cream truck. We don’t usually equate “summer vacation” and empty stomachs.
  • 05/11/12
    Child Watch® Column: "Working Hard to Get Back on Track"
    Since childhood, 21-year-old Ashante Dickens has had a clear goal: “I want to be an elementary school teacher. That’s my passion.” She got good grades in school, and did well enough in high school to be allowed to take a few early enrollment classes at a nearby college in early childhood education. She was on the road to realizing her dream when a family problem changed her course.
  • 05/04/12
    Child Watch® Column: "Poison in America"
    The growth in hate groups and the use of their divisive and negative language in the mainstream political and media arena is cause for national alarm. Already this year several horrendous hate crimes, possible hate crimes, and crimes committed by people with ties to hate groups have received national attention.
  • 04/27/12
    Child Watch® Column: "Safe Harbor for the Homeless"
    Five-year-old Kamari and his three-year-old brother Shamarr clown around in the dining room of the YWCA Family Center in Columbus, Ohio. They and their mother, Stekeshia Harris, slept on cots in the shelter’s library for their first three nights there because there were so many homeless families needing shelter—a 330 percent increase from two years ago.
  • 04/20/12
    Child Watch® Column: "SNAP: Cutting What Works?"
    This week has been a devastating one for children and the poor. It began with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops urging members of the House of Representatives Agriculture Committee for “moral and human reasons” to “protect programs that serve poor and hungry people over subsidies that assist large and relatively well-off agricultural enterprises.”
  • 04/13/12
    Child Watch® Column: "What a Difference a Gun Makes"
    On April 16, 2007, our nation suffered its deadliest shooting incident ever by a single gunman when a student killed 32 people and wounded 25 others at Virginia Tech before committing suicide. Five years later, have we learned anything about controlling our national gun and gun violence epidemic? A look at just a few of the sad headlines across the country so far this year suggests we haven’t learned much or anything at all.
  • 04/06/12
    Child Watch® Column: "America’s Public Schools: Still Unequal and Unjust"
    Millions of children in America are denied the opportunity to receive a fair and high quality education. In March, the U.S. Department of Education released new information showing that children of color face harsher discipline, have less access to rigorous course offerings, and are more often taught by lower paid and less experienced teachers.
  • 03/30/12
    Child Watch® Column: "How Our Nation Can Protect Children, Not Guns"
    When the Children’s Defense Fund released its new report, Protect Children, Not Guns 2012 in March, we dedicated it to the memory of Trayvon Martin and the thousands of other children and teenagers killed by guns in America, including the 5,740 killed in 2008 and 2009 according to the latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The fight to uncover the truth of what happened the night Trayvon Martin died hasn’t ended but basic facts that have never been in dispute are starkly clear.
  • 03/23/12
    Child Watch® Column: "It’s Past Time to Protect Children Not Guns"
    Thousands of people across the country have poured into the streets—from New York to Sanford, Florida—to demand justice for Trayvon Martin. Hundreds of thousands more stepped up to protest online. In response to the public outcry, the Sanford Chief of Police has temporarily stepped down and the state prosecutor has stepped aside.
  • 03/21/12
    Child Watch® Column: "Walking While Black"
    Every parent raising Black sons knows the dilemma: deciding how soon to have the talk.
  • 03/16/12
    Child Watch® Column: "A Healthy Start: Protecting Great Gains for Children in the Affordable Care Act"
    Since our founding almost forty years ago, the Children’s Defense Fund has fought to ensure that all children in America receive the healthy start they need and deserve. Next week marks the second anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the federal health reform legislation, which has been a giant national step forward in reaching that goal.
  • 03/09/12
    Child Watch® Column: "The American Promise: The Right to Vote"
    Every American citizen must have an equal right to vote. There is no reason which can excuse the denial of that right. There is no duty which weighs more heavily on us than the duty we have to ensure that right . . . The command of the Constitution is plain. There is no moral issue. It is wrong—deadly wrong—to deny any of your fellow Americans the right to vote in this country. There is no issue of States rights or National rights. There is only the struggle for human rights.
  • 03/02/12
    Child Watch® Column: "Pursuing Justice for Children and the Poor Now"
    When a child is in mortal danger, we put out an Amber Alert to tell the whole community that we are in pursuit of the child and whoever is endangering her. It is a time of utmost urgency and everyone has to get involved, to be on the lookout, and do whatever is needed to help rescue the child in danger.
  • 02/24/12
    Child Watch® Column: "Medicaid: Help in Hard Times"
    February marks the third anniversary of the Child Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA), which has made significant improvements in health coverage for millions of children. About two-thirds of all uninsured children are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP but are not enrolled due largely to bureaucratic barriers. CHIPRA has addressed those barriers head on by including performance bonuses to encourage states to simplify their enrollment procedures and meet targets for enrolling the lowest income children.
  • 02/17/12
    Child Watch® Column: "Desperately Working To Stay Afloat"
    At one time, the Nations owned a home. But like so many other American families, their standard of living has declined over the past decade even though they are a two-parent working family.
  • 02/10/12
    Child Watch® Column: "Still Hungry in America"
    "There were some times where, you know, we wouldn't have that much food, and I would tell my mom, 'I'm not hungry, don't worry about it,' and I lost a lot of weight. I remember I used to be a size five, and I went from a size five to a size zero," a New York high school senior said in December.
  • 02/03/12
    Child Watch® Column: "'I Just Want a Job'"
    The January jobs report from the U.S. Department of Labor was good news for the 243,000 people who found jobs. And good news for the American economy as the unemployment rate fell to 8.3 percent, the lowest level in nearly three years. This is the 16th straight month of jobs growth, but the recovery can't come soon enough for the millions of long-term unemployed like Tiffany Hanebuth from Middletown, Ohio.
  • 01/27/12
    Child Watch® Column: "Rescuing the American Dream"
    For decades, the cornerstone of fulfilling the American dream has been getting a good education. But that cornerstone has crumbled for millions of America's children. The President said making sure students graduate from high school and are able to go to college must be a priority. He said, "Higher education can't be a luxury - it is an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford."
  • 01/20/12
    Child Watch® Column: "Tough Immigration Laws: Tough on Children"
    Alabama has passed the toughest immigration enforcement law in the country. Now children born in the U.S.A., American citizens, are living in fear. Some children are afraid to go to school. According to Bill Lawrence, principal of Foley Elementary in Foley, Alabama, "Most of these kids are American citizens. American citizens attending American schools, afraid." He continued, "A child in fear can't learn." Children in his school were terrified Mom and Dad would not be home when they got home from school.
  • 01/19/12
    Child Watch® Column: "Derrick Bell - Changing the Odds for Others"
    Throughout his long, storied career as a lawyer, law professor, and legal scholar until his death last October at age 80, Derrick Bell was well known for his willingness to stand up and speak out about the injustices he saw around him even when it cost him his own positions. His activism within and outside the "ivory tower" of academia changed the odds for the generations that followed in his footsteps and learned from his example. I was very pleased to have him as one of my superb supervising attorneys my first year out of law school when I joined the NAACP Legal Defense Fund staff.
  • 01/13/12
    Child Watch® Column: "The American Deficit: Where Do We Go from Here?"
    "There is nothing new about poverty. What is new, however, is that we now have the resources to get rid of it. Not too many years ago, Dr. Kirtley Mather, a Harvard geologist, wrote a book entitled Enough and to Spare. He set forth the basic theme that famine is wholly unnecessary in the modern world. Today, therefore, the question on the agenda must read: Why should there be hunger and privation in any land, in any city, at any table, when man has the resources and the scientific know-how to provide all mankind with the basic necessities of life"
  • 01/06/12
    Child Watch® Column: "Poverty, 2.0"
    End-of-year news stories about holiday spending happily reported on the unexpectedly high totals many Americans spent-or put on credit-this year. But for millions of families there was another story: how to provide enough food and shelter and keep alive the spirit, wonder, and joy of the season for their children when resources are scarce?
  • 12/30/11
    Child Watch® Column: "Remembering Fred Shuttlesworth: The Most Courageous Man in America"
    "That Fred Shuttlesworth did not become a martyr was not for lack of trying... There was not a person in the civil rights movement who put himself in the position of being killed more often than Fred Shuttlesworth." This quote from Andrew Manis, author of Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth's biography, A Fire You Can't Put Out, sums up the truth about the man Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once called "the most courageous civil rights fighter in the South."
  • 12/22/11
    Child Watch® Column: "Remembering a Poor Baby"
    When Britany Lewis was born, no trumpets and glad tidings or even balloons and baby showers greeted her arrival. She was just another poor baby. Britany never knew her father, and for the first six years of her life lived in virtual squalor with five siblings and a mother addicted to drugs who eventually went to prison.
  • 12/16/11
    Child Watch® Column: "A Prayer For This Holy Season"
    God help us to end poverty in our time.The poverty of having a child with too little to eat and no place to sleep, no air, sunlight and space to breathe, bask, and grow.The poverty of watching your child suffer hunger or get sicker and sicker and not knowing what to do or how to get help because you don't have another dime or a car, money, or health insurance.
  • 12/09/11
    Child Watch® Column: "More Faces of Child Poverty"
    Would you recognize a poor child when you saw one? Nine-year-old Carolyn Latimore and her sister Aalijah, eight, are beautiful little girls with big smiles on their faces. But Carolyn, Aalijah, and their older brother, Robert, 17, of Middletown, Ohio, fell into poverty when their parents divorced. They've lived in four places in the past four years including a chaotic housing project where their bikes and toys were stolen.
  • 12/02/11
    Child Watch® Column: "Young People Standing Up for Themselves and for Our Nation"
    ...A day came when 16-year-old Barbara decided to put her dreams into action. "It was time that Negroes were treated equally with whites, time that they had a decent school, time for the students themselves to do something about it. There wasn't any fear. I just thought -- this is your moment. Seize it!"
  • 11/24/11
    Child Watch® Column: "The Worst Feeling"
    "Being hungry is possibly the worst feeling anyone could ever experience, and honestly, when you're hungry, you can't be productive, and you can't really do anything. And I just remember, sometimes in school I would definitely be hungry," said 17-year-old New York City high school senior Ninaad Dave.
  • 11/18/11
    Child Watch® Column: "Cuts in Education: A Failing Choice"
    Aristotle got it right when he said, "All who have meditated on the art of governing mankind have been convinced that the fate of empires depends on the education of youth."? Once upon a time America professed to believe in a strong public education system - at least for some children.
  • 11/11/11
    Child Watch® Column: "Celebrating Young People Beating the Odds!"
    I'm often asked, what's wrong with our children? Too often we focus on the negative without celebrating young people who, despite the odds unfairly stacked against them, overcome great adversity, demonstrate academic excellence, and give back to their community and country. Each year, the Children's Defense Fund (CDF) takes time to honor examples of these inspiring youths through our Beat the Odds® scholarship and leadership development program.
  • 11/04/11
    Child Watch® Column: "Corporate Loopholes: The Tip of the Iceberg"
    Picture an iceberg. Many children know the danger from the "Titanic Song"? they learn in school or summer camp. One verse goes like this: "It was off the coast of England not very far from shore, when the rich refused to associate with the poor. So they sent them down below, where they were the first to go. It was sad when that great ship went down. Oh it was sad, so sad. It was sad, too bad. It was sad when the great ship went down . . . husbands and wives, little children lost their lives -- it was sad when the great ship went down. "
  • 10/28/11
    Child Watch® Column: "Just Say No – To Corporate Greed"
    Repatriation. It's a word many schoolchildren probably haven't yet learned to define or even seen very often outside of spelling bees. But when it comes to corporate taxes, repatriation is the cornerstone of an idea that has the potential to severely hurt millions of children and parents and widen the already historic and unconscionable gap between the rich and the poor.
  • 10/21/11
    Child Watch® Column: "Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, Stupid"
    "The Economy Stupid" were the words on the now famous sign in successful presidential candidate Bill Clinton?s 1992 war room. Today, that sign should be in the war rooms of all candidates?from those seeking the presidency down to those running for local office. And right below it should be three words, "Jobs, Jobs, Jobs."
  • 10/17/11
    Child Watch® Column: "Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Dedication"
    We honor Dr. King today in stone. Let us honor him tomorrow and every day - for as long as it takes - with powerful, persistent voices and unrelenting nonviolent action to rescue his dream - America?s dream - from the clutches of materialism, militarism, racism and poverty he warned would be America?s undoing.
  • 10/14/11
    Child Watch® Column: "Full Day Kindergarten: A Missing Half-Step in Our Schools"
    In Pennsylvania, many children who had been getting excited about their first day of full-day kindergarten were disappointed when full-day kindergarten fell victim to state budget cuts. Massachusetts families in 80 school districts had to pay an average of $3,110 this year for their children to attend full-day kindergarten.
  • 10/07/11
    Child Watch® Column: "A Parent, Community, and National Audit: It's Time for Adults to Shape up and Close the Hypocrisy Gap"
    I am often asked, what's wrong with our children? Children having children. Children killing themselves or others. Children dropping out of school and roaming streets alone or in gangs. Children addicted to tobacco and alcohol, drinking and drugging themselves to escape reality.
  • 09/30/11
    Child Watch® Column: "National and State Safety Nets Fail to Catch Millions of Children"
    The Children's Defense Fund has launched a new series of stories on our web site featuring children and their parents who have fallen on very hard times. They are the real faces and fears behind our disgraceful national child poverty statistics – 16.4 million poor children living in the richest nation on earth.
  • 09/23/11
    Child Watch® Column: "Is Our Nation on the Titanic?"
    A theologian friend took her car to a Jiffy Lube for servicing. Not having anything to read, she picked up a manual on the coffee table about boating. A chapter on the rules for what happens when boats encounter one another on the open sea described two kinds of craft: burdened and privileged.
  • 09/16/11
    Child Watch® Column: "Discouraging News on Child Poverty"
    New data just released by the U.S. Census Bureau reveals 46.2 million poor people in America, the largest number in the last 52 years. One in three of America's poor were children—16.4 million, over 950,000 more than last year, and 7.4 million children were living in extreme poverty. More than one in three Black children and one in three Hispanic children were poor.
  • 09/09/11
    Child Watch® Column: "Supporting Grandparents Caring for Children"
    At a time in life when many are beginning to ease into retirement and enjoying a little more free time, Mr. and Mrs. B. found themselves unexpectedly starting all over again—struggling to care for their adopted daughter's two young sons.
  • 09/02/11
    Child Watch® Column: "Stop Political Lions from Attacking Our Children: Join the Rescue Posse"
    One of the most-watched videos on YouTube a few years ago showed the struggle of a water buffalo family and herd to save a child. It's called the Battle at Kruger Park. It begins with a buffalo mother, father, and child meandering peacefully ahead of the herd unaware that a pride of six lions is stealthily easing up to attack them.
  • 08/26/11
    Child Watch® Column: "Kids Count: Tallying The High Costs Of The Economy For Children"
    The Children's Defense Fund-Ohio, through the support of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, just released the Ohio's KIDS COUNT: 2010 Data Book, an annual report that provides snapshots of the well-being of Ohio's children. With unemployment in Ohio reaching 10.6% last year, we found thousands of Ohio children and their families pushed to the front lines of economic suffering. The overall poverty rate for Ohio's children was 21.6% in 2009, jumping 16.8% in a single year and increasing 45.9% since 2001. The number of Ohio counties with at least 25% of children living in poverty more than doubled from 15 in 2008 to 31 in 2009.
  • 08/19/11
    Child Watch® Column: "Bounced Checks From America's Bank of Opportunity"
    As our nation pauses to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with the dedication of a new memorial on the anniversary of the historic 1963 March on Washington, most will focus on only part of the story. When many Americans think of the historic March, they think of Dr. King standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial delivering his inspiring "I Have a Dream" words he spontaneously added at the very end of his speech.
  • 08/12/11
    Child Watch® Column: "Getting Children Ready For School"
    From new backpacks to sharp pencils, parents across the country are doing their best to cross the items off their children's back-to-school checklists. They want to be sure that when the first day of school comes, their children will have everything they need to be ready to start and ready to learn. But as a country we're failing to do the same thing and in the current budget debate, some of our leaders are threatening to do just the opposite.
  • 08/05/11
    Child Watch® Column: "Zero Tolerance Discipline Policies: A Failing Idea"
    Suspended and expelled students are at greater risk of dropping out of school and dropping into the prison pipeline, and using automatic suspensions and expulsions for minor infractions often has a major negative effect on a child's entire future.
  • 07/29/11
    Child Watch® Column: "A National Family Portrait"
    In the Children's Defense Fund (CDF)'s new report on The State of America's Children 2011, we give a comprehensive overview on the well-being of America's children. But just who are America's children and families today? Children make up almost one in four of the people living in the United States today. More than one-quarter of our nation's children are young—infants, toddlers, or preschoolers.
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