photo of Marian Wright EdelmanPhoto Credit: WikiMedia Commons

Quotes by Marian Wright Edelman

Welcome to our collection of quotes (with shareable picture quotes) by Marian Wright Edelman. We hope you enjoy pondering them and that you will share them widely.

Wikipedia Summary for Marian Wright Edelman

Marian Wright Edelman (born June 6, 1939) is an American activist for children's rights. She has been an advocate for disadvantaged Americans for her entire professional life. She is founder and president emerita of the Children's Defense Fund. She influenced leaders such at Martin Luther King Jr. and Hillary Clinton.


I need to work outside government, on my own.



Be grateful for good breaks and kind favors but don't count on them.



My daddy used to ask us whether the teacher had given us any homework. If we said no, he'd say, well, assign yourself.



The key is that your children are aware that you love them a lot, and that you are there when they really, really need you. If a kid was ill, I would simply leave a meeting and go home.



It really takes a community to raise children, no matter how much money one has. Nobody can do it well alone. And it's the bedrock security of community that we and our children need.



There are so many noises and pulls and competing demands in our lives that many of us never find out who we are. Learn to be quiet enough to hear the sound of the genuine within yourself so that you can hear it in other people.



I've always hated being hemmed in or seeing anybody being hemmed in. Even when I was the smallest child, I couldn't bear being told I couldn't drink at a so-called white drinking fountain.



Children teach us to be courageous and to stand up against injustice.



The old notion that children are the private property of parents dies very slowly. In reality, no parent raises a child alone. How many of us nice middle-class folk could make it without our mortgage reduction.



You were born God's original. Try not to become someone's copy.



Children cannot eat rhetoric and they cannot be sheltered by commissions. I don't want to see another commission that studies the needs of kids. We need to help them.



So often we think we have got to make a difference and be a big dog. Let us just try to be little fleas biting. Enough fleas biting strategically can make a big dog very uncomfortable.



The core of the culture is racism and how black men are viewed. They've always been demonized and seen as threats in our culture. Another holdover from slavery. We've got to deal with that core root of racism and demonization of the upbringing of black men. Black women are not exempt by any means.





The legacy I want to leave is a child-care system that says that no kid is going to be left alone or left unsafe.



The poor have been sent to the front lines of a federal budget deficit reduction war that few other groups were drafted to fight.



Hope is the best contraceptive.



The legacies that parents and church and teachers left to my generation of Black children were priceless but not material: a living faith reflected in daily service, the discipline of hard work and stick-to-itiveness, and a capacity to struggle in the face of adversity.



The literacy level at Mississippi prisons? Fifth grade. Can't read, what are you going to do? If you've got a conviction rap, what are you going to do? It's a real crisis.



I also grew up with community co-parents who looked out for each other. They looked out for children and tried to be the hands of God. They tried to live their faith.



Don't assume a door is closed; push on it. Don't assume if it was closed yesterday that it is closed today. Don't ever stop learning and improving your mind. If you do, you're going to be left behind.





We all need to get out of our safety zones too. In addition to voting, we need to embarrass people who don't do the right thing. It's going to take citizen action.



It is utterly exhausting being Black in America -- physically, mentally, and emotionally. While many minority groups and women feel similar stress, there is no respite or escape from your badge of color.



Martin Luther King didn't pick his leadership position. Most movements are not started by single people.



Every day I wear my Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth medallions around my neck. When I think I'm having a bad day, I try to think about their day, and I get up.



Why are guns the only unregulated consumer products in America? We regulate toy guns and teddy bears, but we do not regulate a product that kills 4,600 children a year.





The crisis of children having children has been eclipsed by the greater crisis of children killing children.



You are in charge of your own attitude whatever others do or circumstances you face. The only person you can control is yourself...worry more about your attitude than your aptitude or lineage.



Understand and be confident that each of us can make a difference by caring and acting in small as well as big ways.





It's deeply rooted in the American psyche. Black men have always been viewed as the other, which leads to a different application of the laws. The current laws are an obscenity. More black men are locked up for using pot than white folk are for far more serious crimes.



Homeless shelters, child hunger, and child suffering have become normalized in the richest nation on earth. It's time to reset our moral compass and redefine how we measure success.



Don't count out Marian Wright Edelman, because there is talk that President Clinton may want to shock the nation by putting a real black on the Supreme Court.



Service is the rent we pay for living.

Longer Version:

Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time.



I'm doing what I think I was put on this earth to do. And I'm really grateful to have something that I'm passionate about and that I think is profoundly important.



Rosa Louise Parks used to say, Everybody looks at me because I sat down once in Montgomery, but the real hero is a woman named Septima Clark.She created the Citizenship Schools where civil-rights activists taught basic literacy and political education classes.



You just do it one step at a time.



You can achieve much in life if you don't mind doing the work and giving someone else the credit.



What's wrong with our children? Adults telling children to be honest while lying and cheating. Adults telling children to not be violent while marketing and glorifying violence... I believe that adult hypocrisy is the biggest problem children face in America.



It's time for greatness -- not for greed. It's a time for idealism -- not ideology. It is a time not just for compassionate words, but compassionate action.



If it's wrong for 13-year-old inner-city girls to have babies without the benefit of marriage, it's wrong for rich celebrities, and we ought to stop putting them on the cover of People magazine.



I grew up in a very religious family and it is the motivating force to every thing I do. I am fortunate to have had adults all around me who really lived their faith, in helping other people and doing the best you can do.

Longer Version:

I grew up in a very religious family and it is the motivating force to every thing I do. I am fortunate to have had adults all around me who really lived their faith, in helping other people and doing the best you can do. The world wasn't so wonderful back then, with segregated rule in the South. But we were never hopeless and we never despaired because we had adults out there struggling with us, being there for us, and buffering us.



I think it is important that people who are perceived as liberals not be afraid of talking about moral and community values.



God, please help us remember that all the darkness in the world cannot snuff out the light of one little candle. Help us to keep lighting our little candles until a mighty torch of justice sweeps our nation and the world.



No time is ever wasted if you have a book along as a companion.



Don't be afraid of hard work.



A lot of people are waiting for Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi to come back -- but they are gone. We are it. It is up to us. It is up to you.



We are not going to deal with the violence in our communities, our homes, and our nation, until we learn to deal with the basic ethic of how we resolve our disputes and to place an emphasis on peace in the way we relate to one another.



If things are too easy, life is a whole lot less interesting.



If you as parents cut corners, your children will too. If you lie, they will too.

Longer Version:

If you as parents cut corners, your children will too. If you lie, they will too. If you spend all your money on yourselves and tithe no portion of it for charities, colleges, churches, synagogues, and civic causes, your children won't either. And if parents snicker at racial and gender jokes, another generation will pass on the poison adults still have not had the courage to snuff out.



Children under five are the poorest age group in America, and one in four infants, toddlers and preschoolers are poor during the years of greatest brain development.



Education is a precondition to survival in America today.



Whoever said anybody has a right to give up?



People who don't vote have no line of credit with people who are elected and thus pose no threat to those who act against our interests.



We are willing to spend the least amount of money to keep a kid at home, more to put him in a foster home and the most to institutionalize him.





When President Kennedy was elected, many black Americans, like so many Americans, were captivated by his youth and energy and promise and were especially hopeful that he might move the country in a new direction on civil rights.



Unless children have strong education and strong families and strong communities and decent housing, it's not enough to go sit in at a lunch counter.



You're not obligated to win. You're obligated to keep trying to do the best you can every day.



We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.



I never thought I was breaking a glass ceiling. I just had to do what I had to do, and it never occurred to me not to.



Our true remembrance to President Kennedy is in our actions to honor the unspoken words and finish the unfinished work today and tomorrow and for as long as it takes.



It never occurred to me that I was not going to challenge segregation.



We must always refill and ensure there is a critical mass of leaders and activists committed to nonviolence and racial and economic justice who will keep seeding and building transforming movements.



Together we can and must fight for justice for our children and protect them from draconian tax cuts and budget choices that threaten their survival, education and preparation for the future. If they are not ready for tomorrow, neither is America.



So much of the deep lingering sadness over President Kennedy's assassination is about the unfinished promise: unspoken speeches, unfulfilled hopes, the wondering about what might have been.



Being considerate of others will take your children further in life than any college degree.



If you don't like the way the world is, you change it. You have an obligation to change it. You just do it one step at a time.



In every seed of good there is always a piece of bad.



Don't feel entitled to anything you didn't sweat and struggle for.



The challenge of social justice is to evoke a sense of community that we need to make our nation a better place, just as we make it a safer place.



You really can change the world if you care enough.



You didn't have a choice about the parents you inherited, but you do have a choice about the kind of parent you will be.



The future which we hold in trust for our own children will be shaped by our fairness to other people's children.



To all those mothers and fathers who are struggling with teen-agers, I say, just be patient: even though it looks like you can't do anything right for a number of years, parents become popular again when kids reach 20.



Hunger and malnutrition have devastating consequences for children and have been linked to low birth weight and birth defects, obesity, mental and physical health problems, and poorer educational outcomes.



Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it.


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