CIVIL RIGHTS AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

Marian Wright Edelman to receive ABA Thurgood Marshall Award

July 27, 2020

The American Bar Association Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice will honor children’s advocate and civil rights leader Marian Wright Edelman with its 2020 Thurgood Marshall Award. 

Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), was the first African-American woman admitted to the State Bar of Mississippi.

Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), was the first African-American woman admitted to the State Bar of Mississippi.

“We are at a pivotal moment for civil rights and social justice in America. Marian Wright Edelman knows this,” said Wendy K. Mariner, chair of the Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice. “She has lived moments like this in our history. She has walked the walk, and she knows what must be done now. We need to hear her powerful voice and heed her wise counsel.”

Edelman, founder and president emeritus of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), was the first African-American woman admitted to the State Bar of Mississippi in 1965. She courageously directed the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund’s office in Jackson, Mississippi, during the struggle for civil rights in the deep South in the 1960s. She later served as counsel to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Poor People's Campaign.

The award will be presented at a Thurgood Marshall Award Celebration virtual program on Friday, July 31, at 4:30-5:30 p.m. CDT during the ABA Virtual Annual Meeting. The award honors U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, who epitomized individual commitment, to the cause of civil rights in this country. The program will include a presentation of the award, remarks by Edelman, and a conversation between Edelman and Valerie Jarrett, former senior adviser to President Barack Obama, about the past and future of civil rights and social justice in America. 

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