Born out of the Civil Rights Movement, for nearly 50 years the Children’s Defense Fund has led the fight for justice for children, with a special focus on children in the Black community. We remain committed to uplifting Black communities and fighting structural racism.
We will never achieve our mission to ensure every child a safe, healthy, fair, and moral start in life and safe passage to adulthood without confronting and dismantling institutionalized racism in America. This means not only reforming policing and the criminal justice system, but also confronting our unjust economic and political systems that create deep disparities in income, housing, education, health, and well-being and continue to harm Black children and families.
Stand with us. Join our community today, and we’ll share opportunities to amplify your voice for children to make sure every child in America has what they need to thrive–no matter where they come from or the color of their skin.
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– Rep. John Lewis
The Children’s Defense Fund grew out of the Civil Rights Movement under the leadership of Marian Wright Edelman. The first Black woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar, Mrs. Edelman worked with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as counsel for his Poor People’s Campaign and dedicated her early career to defending the civil liberties of people struggling to overcome poverty and discrimination. Learn more about our history and mission directly from Mrs. Edelman and late civil rights hero Rep. John Lewis in this video.
Black children in our nation are systematically left behind.
According to our 2021 State of America’s Children Report:
- Before the expansion of the Child Tax Credit, more than 1 in 4 Black children lived in poverty. With the expansion of the CTC, unprecedented reductions in child poverty were achieved in 2021. Black child poverty, for example, was cut by 25 percent in December 2021 and had the potential to be cut by more than 50 percent. (However, the gains in advancing racial justice have unfortunately halted, as Congress failed to extend the CTC expansion through Build Back Better, allowing the poverty rate among Black children to rise once again.)
- The median net worth of white families ($188,200) is almost eight times more than Black families ($24,100).
- Too many Black families cannot afford safe, decent, or affordable homes, due in part to the historical legacy of redlining and housing discrimination.
- More than half of individuals in families who were unhoused were Black and Black youth are 83 percent more likely than youth of other races to be unhoused.
- Nearly 1 in 4 Black children lived in households that didn’t get enough food to eat.
Equipping the Next Generation of Children’s Advocates
Young people of color are pushing our nation to fulfill the promise of equality. It is more important than ever to develop future social justice leaders who reflect the rich diversity of our country—a diversity that is not always seen at the table, much less setting the agenda.
The Children’s Defense Fund has a long history of developing the pipeline of young leaders of color. Download this PDF to hear directly from some of the incredible young advocates and educators that CDF has partnered with, and learn about the impact of our training programs.
The Two Deadly Diseases Plaguing Our Nation
The COVID-19 pandemic has only magnified the existing racial disparities in America: generations of economic inequality, lack of access to high-quality and affordable health care, education, nutrition, and housing. Read more in a recent blog post from CDF’s Director of Poverty.
Justice for Families
Impacted by COVID-19
Black families and other families of color are disproportionately losing their lives and their livelihoods to the COVID-19 crisis. Visit the Action Center to find our policy analysis, advocacy efforts, and the voices of families all in one place so you can get informed and get involved.
Photo credit: Shawn Poynter for NPR
NPR’s Debbie Elliott talked with our founder Marian Wright Edelman about her vision to build two generations of change makers at the same time, by equipping college students of color to become educators in their communities and inspire children to make a difference.