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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

Messages from Marian Wright Edelman’s speech

Marian Wright Edelman is a dynamic speaker. I will travel to hear her again! We need her to speak at our library conferences because she goes to the true heart of education – the needs of the child. I recall seeing a biography of her on my shelves, but her message had never reached me as it did during the Arbuthnot lecture weekend.

Do you know about the Freedom Schools? The CDF Freedom Schools program provides summer and after-school enrichment that helps children fall in love with reading, increases their self-esteem, and generates more positive attitudes toward learning. I want to work with people in the Nashville area to bring a Freedom School to our students. I challenge you to do the same in your area.

Marian Wright Edelman insists that children are advocates and activists now. We are training them and investing in them for the future, but they are advocating now. Through service and civic activities like the Children’s Defense Funds CDF and their summer programs, young people are active and living up to our expectations. 

Edelman says, "If you expect children to live up to your expectations, let them know the strengths within them." 

"The test of morality is how we treat our children." Edelman cited the statistics on children born in poverty, that someone drops out of school every TEN SECONDS, that 80% of black and Hispanic children cannot read and/or compute at grade level. According to the CDF "Attainment of at least a high school diploma is the single most effective, preventive strategy against adult poverty.  Yet the U.S. has the sixth lowest high school graduation rate among the 30 industrialized countries that are OECD members."

"These things must change." We must replace the concept of "Cradle to prison pipeline" with a PIPELINE TO COLLEGE reality. The imbalance of black boys who are imprisoned and the imbalances of poverty among our students are the new American Apartheid. Edelman says we must make different choices. 

We must have health care, mental health care, and prenatal care for everybody, for every child, and for the 800,000 mothers every year without prenatal care. We are the only "civilized" nation that allows this atrocity of no prenatal care to continue. 

Edelman realizes President Obama has many demands on him, but quoted him for his concerns on education, early childhood support, and the Children’s Health mandate. We need to get kids into teaching and not into law schools, says Edelman. We need a broad citizen’s movement. 

What can you do?

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mayalin3a%2Bchapel Messages from Marian Wright Edelmans speechDr. Sheadrick A. Tillman the CDF managing director spoke about the facilities on the Children’s Defense Fund Alex Haley farm. Look at this picture (thanks to blog of Krisscop’s House) of the chapel designed by Maya Lin. 

The CDF is a smoke-free, drug-free, alcohol-free, violence-free, and hate-free environment. It is a private, non-profit organization that accepts no federal, state, or local government funds. He wants crowds to visit and people to feel comfortable there. Children cannot vote, lobby, spend, or send petitions to speak for themselves. CDF helps provide investments in children before they are sick, in trouble, drop out, get pregnant or suffer family breakdowns. If you want to host an event or retreat dealing with children’s issues in the calming, serene atmosphere of the CDF Haley Farm, contact cdfhaley@childrensdefense.org or call 865-457-6466.

Dr. Tillman says of Marian Wright Edelman, she is a "living legend with vision beyond common sight."