La Salle News

La Salle University Awards Marian Wright Edelman Honorary Doctorate at 2018 Commencement

March 14, 2018

Marian Wright Edelman headshot_color

Marian Wright Edelman, president and founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, civil rights activist, and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, will receive an honorary doctorate from La Salle University at its 155th Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 20, 2018. Edelman has worked as an advocate for disadvantaged Americans for her entire professional life. Under her leadership, the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) has become the nation’s strongest voice for children and families.

“The Lasallian mission calls us to serve and stand with marginalized communities worldwide, a conviction we strive to instill in each La Salle University graduate,” said President Colleen M. Hanycz. “Marian Wright Edelman’s tireless pursuit for social justice and deep belief in the power of education beautifully aligns with this mission. As we send our students into the world to actively respond to injustices with courage, creativity, and compassion, Mrs. Edelman serves as an inspirational leader and role model. We are absolutely delighted to welcome her as a member of the Class of 2018.”

“I am grateful to receive this honor from La Salle University, an institution committed to service rooted in social justice and solidarity,” said Edelman. “It’s time to redefine the measure of success in America and to unrelentingly lift our individual and collective voices to end the pervasive violence of poverty and guns that take and undermine the lives of millions of our children. If we don’t do it, who will?”

Edelman, a graduate of Spelman College and Yale Law School, began her career in the mid-1960s when, as the first black woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar, she directed the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund office in Jackson, Mississippi. In 1968, she moved to Washington, D.C., as counsel for the Poor People’s Campaign that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. began organizing before his death. She founded the Washington Research Project, a public interest law firm and the parent body of the Children’s Defense Fund. For two years she served as the Director of the Center for Law and Education at Harvard University and in 1973 founded the CDF.

She has received more than 100 honorary degrees, and several awards including the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Prize, the Heinz Award, and a MacArthur Foundation Prize Fellowship. In 2000, she received the Robert F. Kennedy Lifetime Achievement Award for her writings, which include: Families in Peril: An Agenda for Social Change, The Measure of Our Success: A Letter to My Children and Yours, and Hold My Hand: Prayers for Building a Movement to Leave No Child Behind.

La Salle University’s 155th Undergraduate Commencement Exercises occur on Sunday, May 20, 2018 on campus at McCarthy Stadium. Graduate Commencement is Friday, May 18, 2018 in Tom Gola Arena at the TruMark Financial Center.


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