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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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  • 01/18/08
    Child Watch® Column: "Dr. King's Prophetic Call to Conscience and Action Today"
    "The past year has been a tumultuous and uncertain one for many Americans. Each day's headlines brought worrisome news: the collapse of Wall Street; massive home and job losses; and a spreading global economic crisis. We all felt enormous fear and insecurity for our family's and children's futures...."
  • 01/11/08
    Child Watch® Column: "The Parent Institute For Quality Education: Solutions That Work"
    "At the national summit on the Cradle to Prison Pipeline® Crisis convened by the Children's Defense Fund at Howard University in September, we had the opportunity to hear from a number of national experts about solutions that are working to keep at-risk children off the track to prison and on the path to success....."
  • 01/04/08
    Child Watch® Column: "Excellence Charter School — A Model for Academic Achievement"
    "One of the greatest life changers is a college education. For so many young people, college is a vehicle that allows them to reinvent themselves in the image of their own dreams...."
  • 12/28/07
    Child Watch® Column: "Creating a Community Cradle Roll"
    "Was your name on the Cradle Roll? Many of us who grew up in the church will know right away just what that means."
  • 12/21/07
    Child Watch® Column: "Making Room at America's Inn for All God's Children"
    "Like Howard Thurman's "Prayer of Thanksgiving," I like sharing this story a friend shared with me as "the best sermon" my dear friend and mentor Rev. William Sloane Coffin, Jr., who passed away last year, "never preached." It was Christmas Eve and the pews at New York City's Riverside Church were packed."
  • 12/14/07
    Child Watch® Column: "Giving -- The True Gift of Christmas"
    "Christmas is a festive time when many families come together, homes are decorated with trees hung with ornaments and lights and sumptuous dinners are prepared. Christmas also can be, for a variety of reasons, a time of stress. "
  • 12/07/07
    Child Watch® Column: "Augustus Hawkins -- A Marvelous Statesman Passes On"
    "Augustus F. "Gus" Hawkins was a legislator, an advocate for children and working families, and a statesman. He died at the age of 100 on November 10th."
  • 11/30/07
    Child Watch® Column: "Let's Put the "Justice" Back in Our Juvenile Justice System"
    "Although she had no prior criminal record, 14-year-old Shaquanda Cotton was sentenced in 2006 to up to seven years in correctional detention for shoving a teacher's aide in the small town of Paris in East Texas. Another 14-year-old girl was sentenced by the same judge to probation after she was convicted of the serious crime of arson."
  • 11/23/07
    Child Watch® Column: "Young, Black, and Locked Up"
    "If you were asked where the United States ranks among industrialized countries on low birthweight, infant mortality or child poverty, a guess much higher than the bottom on any of these social indicators would be wrong. But if you were asked where America stands on imprisoning its citizens, you would be correct to answer that we surpass everyone else. Our nation incarcerates more people — over 2.3 million in 2006 — than any other country."
  • 11/19/07
    Child Watch® Column: "A Litany of Thanksgiving"
    "In this season of Thanksgiving, I wish you wealth in the things of true value — family, friends, health and peace of mind and spirit. For those of us with plenty, it's a time to stretch our waistbands with customary comfort food — turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce."
  • 11/09/07
    Child Watch® Column: "Courage to Beat the Odds"
    "Imagine being alone on a battlefield facing new enemies each and every day. There are few visible avenues of retreat or escape and few resources to help you survive. But by dint of inner strength, you not only survive, you prevail."
  • 11/02/07
    Child Watch® Column: "From School Yard to Prison Yard"
    "In a number of America's upper-income communities, parents like generations of family members before them preregister their children at birth for blue-chip nursery schools in hopes of placing them on the path to Ivy League and other top-tier universities. By contrast, millions of Black and Latino children from poor families with no or few stimulating prekindergarten opportunities never make it onto the college track."
  • 10/26/07
    Child Watch® Column: "Fighting the Culture Battle for Our Children's Future"
    "Compared to today, many of the messages that our children received from popular culture in the 1960s and 70s were positive or at least not harmful. We all remember the Motown love ballads of groups like "The Temptations" who sang songs with lyrics like: "I've got sunshine on a cloudy day. When it's cold outside, I've got the month of May. I guess you'd say, 'What can make me feel this way?' My girl…." Marvin Gaye's What's Happening Brother album offered a commentary on war, poverty, drug abuse and pollution"
  • 10/19/07
    Child Watch® Column: "Oratory and Baseball are Strong Diversions from the Prison Pipeline"
    "This is one of a series of Child Watch® Columns on dismantling America's Cradle to Prison Pipeline. Young people get on the prison track for a variety of reasons—they fall in with the wrong crowd, they have few positive adult influences in their lives, they are not engaged in positive activities."
  • 10/12/07
    Child Watch® Column: "Childhood Obesity -- A Growing Epidemic"
    "Children around the world face life-threatening nutrition problems. The international child relief organization, Save the Children, says that each year, chronic long-term malnutrition contributes to the deaths of approximately 6.5 million children worldwide."
  • 09/28/07
    Child Watch® Column: "A Call to Action to Dismantle the Cradle to Prison Pipeline"
    "The Founding Fathers drafted the Constitution as a roadmap to, as the Preamble says, "establish justice," "promote the general welfare" and "secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity." Somehow over the last 220 years, our nation lost its way and developed a system that has established America as the prison capital of the world."
  • 09/28/07
    Child Watch® Column: "Dr. Asa Hilliard -- Scholar Liberator"
    "We lost a giant in August when educator, psychologist and historian Asa G. Hilliard III died while leading a study tour in Egypt. Asa Hilliard was a pioneering scholar who sought a greater balance in the history curriculum as it is taught in American elementary and secondary schools and at the university level."
  • 09/21/07
    Child Watch® Column: "President Bush's New Health Rules are Wrong for Children"
    "Late on a Friday afternoon in the middle of the August congressional recess, after the House and Senate passed legislation reauthorizing and extending the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), the Bush Administration issued harsh and restrictive rules for SCHIP that would make it virtually impossible for states to extend health coverage to many of America's more than nine million uninsured children."
  • 09/14/07
    Child Watch® Column: "We Will Not Be Silent About the Jena Six"
    "I'm writing to urge all of my readers to take action and demand justice for the African American youths known as "the Jena Six." These young men, all teenagers, are in great peril of being condemned to long prison terms for allegedly participating in a school fight in the small rural town of Jena, Louisiana. Mychal Bell, 17, has already been convicted by an all-White jury of aggravated second-degree battery and may be sentenced to as much as 15 years and a $10,000 fine at a hearing scheduled for September 20th."
  • 09/07/07
    Child Watch® Column: "Free the Jena Six"
    "The recent conviction of Black high school student Mychal Bell in the small rural town of Jena, Louisiana, demonstrates why the struggle for civil rights and equal justice must continue with renewed vigor. In a vindictive miscarriage of justice, LaSalle Parish District Attorney J. Reed Walters brought the full weight of his office as a prosecutor down on Bell, 17, who may face a 15-year prison term for aggravated second-degree battery for participating in a school fight."
  • 08/31/07
    Child Watch® Column: "Oliver W. Hill -- In Memoriam"
    "In the 1940s and 50s, a very small but very committed band of highly trained NAACP lawyers launched a war in the nation's courts to end legal apartheid in American education. Their leader was the brilliant Charles Hamilton Houston, who unlike his partner Thurgood Marshall, is one the unsung heroes of that crusade."
  • 08/24/07
    Child Watch® Column: "Katrina -- Two Years in the Life of a Child"
    "Two years ago, on August 29, Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf coasts of Louisiana and Mississippi, displacing hundreds of thousands. Black communities that had been economically depressed before the hurricane were hardest hit."
  • 08/17/07
    Child Watch® Column: "Congress--Pass the SCHIP Bill and Save Children's Lives"
    "The Children's Defense Fund's top policy goal in 2007 has been comprehensive health coverage for all 9 million uninsured children and pregnant women in America. It will remain our top priority until we succeed. Meanwhile, pending congressional legislation gives new hope to three to four million children across the country."
  • 08/10/07
    Child Watch® Column: "We Need More Face Time With Our Children"
    "I often write in this space about a national or global challenge confronting our children and recommend how readers might support a policy or initiative to address it. In this week's column, however, I'd like to talk about how each of us can do more to personally develop our own children."
  • 08/03/07
    Child Watch® Column: "Empowering Mothers Around the World"
    "A family lives in a small village by a river—a mother, two girls and a boy. The water isn't clean, but the children play in it avoiding dead fish whose pale bellies roll on the surface. There's a mill or refinery or food processing plant several kilometers upstream that spews thick raw sludge into the river."
  • 07/27/07
    Child Watch® Column: "Voting Rights and June Johnson"
    "On August 6, we observe the anniversary of the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This landmark legislation struck down a range of barriers to Black citizens' exercising their right to vote, including "literacy tests" and poll taxes."
  • 07/20/07
    Child Watch® Column: "Massachusetts Governor Patrick's Free Community College Plan Promises a Way Up"
    "This June, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick announced a visionary initiative to expand public education to include two years of free community college for every high school graduate in the state. He calls his plan a child-centered "cradle to career" approach to public education that begins before kindergarten and continues until young people join the workforce."
  • 07/13/07
    Child Watch® Column: "The U.S. Supreme Court's Wrong Turn on Racial Equality"
    "The July 28th U.S. Supreme Court decision to strike down voluntary school integration plans in Louisville, Kentucky, and Seattle, Washington, will erode gains in racial equality won through landmark court cases and the struggle by Americans of all races in the Civil Rights Movement."
  • 07/06/07
    Child Watch® Column: "President Bush Needs to Be a Positive Leader on Child Health Care, Not a Negative One"
    "With 9 million children in America lacking health insurance and reauthorization of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) pending in Congress before it expires September 30th, this is a pivotal year for our children's health and wellbeing. Despite his pledge to provide children, including Katrina's children, the care and protection they require and deserve, President Bush's budget proposals would reduce health coverage for millions of children and hamper SCHIP's capacity to reach those children who lack a health care safety net."
  • 06/29/07
    Child Watch® Column: "Sicko Indicts America's Health Care Industry"
    "I am not in the habit of doing movie reviews but I recommend everyone see Michael Moore's documentary "SiCKO" about our health care system which leaves 45 million Americans uninsured including 9 million children. The film shows how sick people and taxpayers are victimized by powerful corporate interests guided by profits rather than preventing and curing health problems."
  • 06/22/07
    Child Watch® Column: "Medicare Overpayments to Private Insurers are Hazardous to Children's Health"
    "As Congress considers the renewal of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) over the next few weeks and months, we are pushing legislators to cover all nine million uninsured children. However, Congressional leaders are only attempting to come up with enough funds to cover some of the children who are already eligible for SCHIP but are not enrolled."
  • 06/15/07
    Child Watch® Column: "The Enduring Mission of Freedom Schools"
    "As a civil rights lawyer in the 1960s, I saw courageous college students organizing Freedom Schools in Mississippi to prepare desperately poor, semi-literate, and disenfranchised Black people for active citizenship and to fight for the right to vote. I didn't know at the time that we'd need Freedom Schools 40 years later."
  • 06/08/07
    Child Watch® Column: "An Appropriate Celebration of National Child's Day"
    "In President George W. Bush's May 31st National Child's Day proclamation, he pledged to provide our children "with the care, protection and education they deserve." He also called upon "citizens to celebrate National Child's Day with the appropriate ceremonies and activities.""
  • 06/01/07
    Child Watch® Column: "Hard Times and Child Health Care"
    "Marc Bostic has the look of someone shaped on the football field and by years of practicing martial arts. He's a handsome, well-educated man who had been the senior executive manager for a construction company. On first impression, one wouldn't suspect that he was anything but the picture of health and success."
  • 05/25/07
    Child Watch® Column: "Choosing Which Children Live, Die or Suffer"
    "Health coverage in America shouldn't be like the stock market that dispassionately picks winners and losers. But insufficient funding of government health insurance programs combined with barriers limiting access to coverage has created a system where some children get health care and others don't."
  • 05/18/07
    Child Watch® Column: "Wanted: A 2007 Class of Heroes and Sheroes"
    "About this time each year, Hollywood releases blockbuster movies featuring superheroes—typically a man in tights and maybe a cape opposing a master villain. Fiction aside, what is needed are real world heroes with what it takes to oppose a truly daunting foe. As the members of the class of 2007, I invite you to take a heroic stand for something bigger than yourselves and join the fight for social justice."
  • 05/11/07
    Child Watch® Column: "Keeping a Child Healthy Shouldn't Be This Hard"
    "Children get sick occasionally. Parents expect it and always hope they never get anything more than a cold, but they want to be prepared for the worst. Part of that preparation is making sure their children have health insurance. Millions of low- and moderate-income families can't afford private insurance and are eligible for Medicaid or the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)."
  • 05/04/07
    Child Watch® Column: "We Must Fight for Mental Health Care Too"
    "The Children's Defense Fund is in the midst of a national campaign to convince Congress and the President to enact legislation this year to extend health care coverage of all children in America, including the nine million who currently are uninsured."
  • 04/27/07
    Child Watch® Column: "We Must Stem Gun Violence"
    We must face the hard truth that firearms are so easy to acquire in the United States that lethal mass shootings are mathematically inevitable. Our nation was stunned by Cho Seung Hui's shooting spree at Virginia Tech University where he killed 32 students and professors and wounded 15.
  • 04/20/07
    Child Watch® Column: "Cause of Death: Bureaucratic Failure"
    "For too many of the nine million uninsured children in America, the lack of health coverage can literally mean the difference between life and death. Children are dying because their health coverage under Medicaid or the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) ran out, was not renewed in a timely manner or simply does not cover the services a child needs."
  • 04/13/07
    Child Watch® Column: "A Questionable Child Arrest"
    What goes through a police officer's mind when he's handcuffing a child? That's not a rhetorical question. On March 13th, a police officer arrested seven-year-old Gerard Mungo, Jr., at his home in a low-income Black neighborhood in East Baltimore, Maryland.
  • 04/06/07
    Child Watch® Column: "Twinkle and Ethel: More Parents Struggling to Keep Their Children Healthy"
    "Our children need you to stand up and demand Congress and President Bush provide all of them health care this year. Children cannot wait. There is no excuse for nine million children to be uninsured in the richest nation on earth."
  • 03/30/07
    Child Watch® Column: "Beating the Odds—Something to Cheer About"
    "If you want to hear about a drug crime or armed robbery by a teen, listen to the 11:00 p.m. news on most nights or go to the Metro section of most newspapers. But if you want to hear about exemplary or ennobling behavior by young people, you may have to do some searching."
  • 03/23/07
    Child Watch® Column: "Our Children are Dying for Health Care: Help Them"
    "How did America get to the point where Deamonte Driver, a seventh grader in Prince George's County, Maryland, died because he didn't have health insurance to cover an $80 tooth extraction and his mother couldn't find a dentist to treat him?"
  • 03/16/07
    Child Watch® Column: "Another Call to Conscience and Action for Katrina's Children"
    "Katrina's children are still waiting for their country to come to their rescue with life and hope giving health and mental health care and a secure place called home."
  • 03/09/07
    Child Watch® Column: "Three Sisters, Three Illnesses, No Health Coverage"
    "The Children's Defense Fund is working tirelessly to raise awareness about the ways families across the country are struggling to get their children the health care they need. Here's the story of a California family where three daughters all struggle with serious health issues without health coverage."
  • 03/02/07
    Child Watch® Column: "Elect Susie"
    "On February 27, another candidate joined the ranks of those running for the office of President of the United States. The candidate has a platform focused on one issue—health coverage for all children this year.The candidate is ten-year-old Susie Flynn."
  • 02/23/07
    Child Watch® Column: "Fighting for Health Coverage for All Our Children In 2007"
    "The Children's Defense Fund (CDF) is fighting to make health coverage for all children a reality in America in 2007. Chronic budget shortfalls, often confusing enrollment processes, and dramatic variation in eligibility and coverage from state to state prevent millions of children currently eligible for Medicaid and for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) from living healthy and realizing their full potential in school and life."
  • 02/09/07
    Child Watch® Column: "Does Congress Pass the Test in Protecting Children?"
    "How well do your members of Congress protect children? The Children's Defense Fund Action Council (CDFAC)'s new 2006 Congressional Scorecard grades every member of the House and Senate on how well they voted to protect children based on 10 key votes in each House."
  • 02/02/07
    Child Watch® Column: "Protect Children, Not Guns"
    "As the nation's mayors met in Washington, D.C. in January to discuss solutions to gun violence at their annual conference, the Children's Defense Fund released Protect Children, Not Guns 2007, our new annual report that details how each and every day we continue to lose children and teens to senseless gun violence in towns, cities, and rural areas all across America."
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