The first child advocate I saw in action was Marian Wright Edelman, the founder and long-time leader of Children’s Defense Fund. That was more than 30 years ago, during the Reagan administration. I watched and learned as she advocated strategically for children in the federal budget while never compromising her vision and values. Since then, Ms. Edelman has turned her focus to building the power and skills of children, particularly Black children, to raise up their voices and lead.
It is no exaggeration to say that all of us at Children’s Law Center – in fact, all who advocate for children around the country – stand on her broad shoulders.
During Black History Month, we join in celebrating Black leaders who, throughout history, have improved the lives of all Americans. This year, I find myself energized by the Black men, women and children who, like Ms. Edelman, are still fighting for a just and equitable future.
This pandemic has shown what Ms. Edelman has long taught, that leadership does not need a title or an election. At Children’s Law Center, we have had the privilege of supporting thousands of Black children, parents and caregivers who are leading changes at home, in neighborhoods and in the halls of power.
Knowing that many children are celebrating Black History Month, we asked some of these young leaders – children we met through our work – to share their essays and art with us so we could share it with you. And we know you’ll agree they’re fantastic.
If you have children with Black History Month art or essays, please share on social media and tag us. We’d love to join them in celebrating the Black leaders who have shaped our history and present-day community – as well as the young leaders who are already shaping our future.
*We always provide the families we work with the option to change their name or use initials when sharing their story. Names in this story have not been changed.