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Women's History Heroes, from the Childrens Defense Fund

MARCH 12: Marian Wright Edelman, President of the Children's Defense Fund attends Children's Defense Fund 'Beat The Odds' gala
Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images

The Children’s Defense Fund has long been a powerful voice for children in the United States and around the world. When people in politics take their eye off the ball and forget that their lucrative little chess game impacts the lives of millions, CDF is there to provide the data and the resources to counter-vail – IF we, the public, will work together with them to protect the voiceless. Their website has volumes of information and opportunities -

I receive the Child Watch Columns: by email, and find them inspiring. Recently, their author, the indomitable Marian Wright Edelman, has been writing some fascinating historical reminders of Women’s roles during a century of Civil Rights activism. To quote directly from her newsletter of March 21st 2014 (see link below):

“Women’s History Month is a reminder that in every major American social reform movement, women have always played a critical role. Women at the forefront, acting as the catalyst for progress when it needs to happen, make the front pages and the history books. But women have also always been the invisible backbone, unseen but strong, of transforming social movements and of all anchor institutions in society—our families, congregations, schools, and communities—employing behind the scenes quiet essential leadership and organizational, communication, and fundraising skills to get things done." –

See more at

Already a tremendous admirer of Ella Baker, (see link: ) my appreciation is due to Ms Edelman, who actually worked with and was mentored and inspired by Ella Baker and these other remarkable women in her early career.

Please read her biographies of these powerful women –

Ella Baker:

Child Watch® Column: "Ella Baker: My Civil Rights Generation’s 'Fundi'"

Until the killing of Black men, Black mothers’ sons, becomes as important to the rest of the country as the killing of a White mother’s son—we who believe in freedom cannot rest until this happens.
--Ella Baker - 1964

From the article:

“During this last week of Women’s History Month I wanted you to learn about Ella Baker, a transforming but too little known woman and overpowering justice warrior for my generation of civil rights activists. The quote above is from Ella Baker 50 years ago, and like so much about this visionary civil rights leader it is still just as relevant today.”

Septima Clark

Child Watch® Column: "Honoring Septima Clark" – From the article:

“During this Black History Month I was deeply honored to be inducted into the South Carolina Hall of Fame at the same time as Mrs. Septima Clark—the woman Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called the “Mother of the Movement.”

A small sample of her activist career: “In 1919 Mrs. Clark returned to Charleston, where she volunteered for a NAACP petition effort that ultimately changed the local law prohibiting Black teachers. For the next several decades she taught primarily in Charleston and Columbia while continuing her own education in the summers—at Columbia University in New York; at Atlanta University, where W.E.B. DuBois was one of her professors; at Benedict College, where she finally received a bachelor’s degree; and at Hampton Institute; where she earned her master’s. She fought for equalization of salaries for Black and White teachers in South Carolina.” – just the beginning!

Jo Ann Robinson

Child Watch® Column: "The Invisible Backbone Leaders of Transforming Social Change"

From the article:

“. . . . And behind that bus boycott was an unknown community leader named Jo Ann Robinson who had been pushing for change in Montgomery buses and had been putting the community infrastructure in place long before Rosa Parks was arrested. Robinson was vigilant and ready to spring into action when the right opportunity arose. –

Jo Ann Robinson, an English professor at Alabama State College, was president of the Women’s Political Council (WPC), a group of Black women civic leaders in Montgomery. She had been thrown off a city bus in 1949 for sitting too close to the front although the bus was nearly empty. This infuriating experience was all too common among Montgomery’s Black residents—and the WPC had already chosen to make changing the bus system one of their priorities. “

The message that resonates today is that grass roots’ organizing is still the most effective way to change policy. When Septima Clark was discouraged by the lack of support she received, rather than give up, she went back to her core constituency and talked with them some more, to bring them to where they could act from a position of knowledge and power. When we want to put a stop to High Stakes testing, for example, this is the only way to do it – parents must fully and thoughtfully understand the damage that is being done – not just anxiety attacks in their own child, which can easily be trivialized, but the entire testing effect of destroying access to a well rounded, engaging and child-centered education. If Arne Duncan can sneer at parents for ‘not wanting their little darlings to be subjected to scrutiny and judgment that might upset their precious self esteem’, we are in a very uninformed place! Septima Clark et al would go back to the kitchen tables, Facebook pages and PTA meetings and never ever give up!

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