The Reclaiming Futures initiative was honored to host Marian Wright Edelman (seen on the right in the photo at right, with Laura Nissen, National Director of Reclaiming Futures). Mrs. Edelman is founder and president of the Childrens' Defense Fund (CDF) and is a renowned advocate for America's disadvantaged children.
A couple of highlights from her inspiring speech (quotes may not be word-for-word):
- "When people talk about issues at the intersection of race and poverty, they talk as if they're intractable. The cradle-to-prison pipeline is not an act of God -- it's a set of choices, of policies that we can change."
- "Our states are spending three times more per prisoner than they are on education. I can't think of a dumber investment ..."
- "When people ask me, 'What's wrong with our children?' I say, "Adults are what's wrong with our children."
Her message of urgency and hope was a perfect way to kick off our conference aimed at helping teens caught up in the cycle of drugs, alcohol and crime. The fact is, she's right: we do have choices, the policies we make -- and allow to be made for us -- have huge impacts on individual lives.
Short of providing you with a video of her speech, I can think of no better way to provide the essence of her message than to link to the CDF's report, "America's Cradle to Prison Pipeline." Well worth reading and absorbing.
UPDATE: Here are the links to two videos Mrs. Edelman presented, demonstrating the two choices we have: (1), the cradle to prison pipeline; and (2) a look at the CDF's Freedom Schools initiative, which shows what happens when you provide children with positive activities and caring role models.
Updated: February 08 2018