Meet Marion Wright Edelman. You may not have heard about her before, but she changed our country for the better and helped shape the world view of a person who just may be the next President of the United States. Edelman was the first African American woman admitted in the Mississippi Bar when she began practicing law out of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.’s Mississippi office. During her time in Mississippi, she worked on racial justice issues connected with the civil rights movement and represented activists throughout the Mississippi Freedom Summer of 1964. In 1973, she founded the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) as a voice for poor, minority, and disabled children. At the CDF, she hired a bright young lawyer fresh out of law school named Hillary Rodham. As Hillary’s first boss, Edelman mentored the future Secretary of State and candidate for President. While working for Edelman, Rodham headed up a first-of-its-kind survey to uncover the ugly truths behind the statistics regarding school-aged children who were not getting an education due a wide range of domestic challenges the most problematic being mental, emotional, and physical disabilities. The results of her survey were submitted by the CDF to Congress and resulted in 1975’s Education For All Handicapped Children Act. This is what can happen if white folks stop preaching at black folks on how to behave and, instead, take the time to listen … and learn.

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