Marian Wright Edelman

this program is a presentation of uctv for educational and non-commercial use only the same religion that’s capable of hideous acts of destruction can also be capable of moments of healing of restoration and of hope but educate a girl and you educate her entire family there is a son within every person when that anger sets him write it write the letters but don’t send them you never want to leave concrete proof of insanity marian wright edelman one of five children was born and grew up in Bennettsville South Carolina her father arthur wright was a Baptist preacher who taught his children the mandate for service ms edelman has said whoever said anybody has the right to give up a lesson learned perhaps from over perhaps from her her father and one that has apparently been the guiding light of her life ms edelman studied at spelman college and went abroad on a merrill scholarship and she traveled to the soviet union on a Lyle fellowship when she returned to Spelman she became involved in the civil rights movement which inspired her to drop her plans to enter foreign service and instead to study law she studied law at Yale and worked as a student on a project to register african-american voters in Mississippi ms Edelman said 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 and so her life of service was being built in 1963 after graduating from Yale Law School marian wright edelman worked first in new york for the n-double-a-cp legal and defense fund and then in mississippi for the same organization there she became the first african-american woman to practice law in Mississippi during her time in Mississippi she worked on racial justice issues connected with the civil rights movement and she also helped get a head start program established in her community that was a foreshadowing ms Edelman established the Children’s Defense Fund in 1973 as a voice for poor minority and handicapped children she served as a public speaker on behalf of these children and as a lobby distant Congress as well as president and in the straight of head of the organization the agency serves not only as an advocacy organization but as a research center documenting the problems and possible solutions to children in need to ensure independence the CDF is financed entirely with private funds miss Evelyn has also advocated pregnancy prevention child care funding health care funding prenatal care parental responsibility for education and values reducing the violent images presented two children and selective gun control in the wake of school shootings it will be obvious to you tonight as you listen and interact with Marion why she is the recipient of so many awards which include the recipient of the presidential medal of freedom this is the highest civilian honor one can earn in the United States of America she’s also been awarded the MacArthur Genius award only in my dreams I wanted to be a genius and she’s also been awarded 65 honorary degrees miss Edelman has said we are living in a time of unbearable dissonance between promise and performance between good politics and good policy between professed and practiced family values between racial creed and racial deed between calls for community and rampant individualism and greed and between our capacity to prevent and alleviate human deprivation and disease and our political and spiritual will to do so when i told marian wright edelman that I was introducing her she mentioned please say

a word about the grandchildren I know the grandchildren are in your booklet so she might want me to mention don’t forget those three grandchildren please join me tonight in welcoming the opportunity to navigate the burning contradictions that really describe our current situation as it relates to children with the help of world famous children’s advocate Marian Wright Elliman thank thank you being a family thank you very much I’m delighted to be here and this beautiful city on this beautiful campus with your Chancellor and I think Kim and his wife or their warm hospitality this evening I’m to be here to celebrate 100th anniversary of the centennial of a great Gertz School of Education and I was delighted to meet mrs. cavorts and I’m sorry I did not know her husband and I think Dino Connelly for that warm introduction these are the best of times in the worst of times and I think that Charles Dickens got it right that we’re living on age of foolishness and an age of wisdom i hope that this is an epic herbal ‘if but an epoch of incredulity a season of light and a season of darkness a spring of hope in a winter of despair we are living and extraordinarily am challenging and hopeful times and wherever we end up is going to depend on what you and I do so I’m delighted to be here to share my thoughts about what we’ve got to do for our country to move in a healthier and safer direction and our world the day after dr. King was assassinated riots broke out all over America the day he was assassinated and our nation’s capital was the site of one of the most severe riots and I went out into public schools of Washington DC to talk to the young people into the children in neighborhoods that were scorched by flames and I told them not to be violent and not to loot and not to raid so that they would not get arrested and ruin their futures but a young black boy about 12 or 13 years old looked me straight in the ions at lady what future I ain’t got no future ain’t got nothing to lose and I’ve spent the four decades since then trying to answer that voice truth I had no idea how hard it would be and our very wealthy and nation that pretends to be a democracy for this child saw and spoke the very plain truth for himself and for millions like and are economically and militarily powerful but still spiritually anemic society I quote Dietrich Bonhoeffer the great German Protestant theologian in almost every speech because he like I believe the test of the morality of a society depends on how we treat our children well America still flunks bond hafez test every minute every hour of every day we let a child drop out of school every 10 seconds of the school day and a majority of all of our children of all race and income groups are not reading at grade level than fourth 8th or 12th grade if I haven’t dropped out of school over eighty percent of our black and Latino children are not reading at grade level what are you going to do you can’t read in this globalizing economy or compute in the most basic ways every 33 seconds despite our enormous wealth a child is born into poverty nijar didn’t live in working families when dr. King died in 1968 calling for poor people’s campaign we had 11 million for children today we have 13.3 million poor children and that’s before the most recent economic downturn and almost six million those children were living in extreme poverty numbers that I’m sure have gotten worse every 36 seconds a child is neglected or abused every 39 seconds a child is born without health insurance and ninety percent of their parents work playing by the rules don’t get employer-based care every minute a child has a child we could fill up the city of Atlanta each year with children having children and every three hours a child is killed by guns a day we’ve made progress when we first started issuing our children and gun violence reports we were losing 15 children a day so a today is progress but we have the equivalent of Virginia

Tech every four days 32 children last year we lost three thousand six children which is warmer and deaths of children then we lost in Afghanistan and Iraq in our battle casualties through the end of last year I don’t know what it’s going to take to help us stand up as a people and say we’re going to stop the killing of children the Sunday before he died he announced dr. King call for poor people’s campaign and our Washington National Cathedral in the day that he was assassinated he called his mother to give her his next Sunday sermon and that sermon was why America may go to hell and he said that America is going to go to hell if we don’t use her vast resources to end poverty and to make it possible for all of God’s children to have the basic necessities of life now I want to talk tonight about America’s sixth child and the cradle to Prison Pipeline and I want us to imagine God visiting our very wealthy family that is blessed with six children five of them have it up to eat and comfortable warm rooms in which to sleep one does not she’s often hungry and cold and on some nights she has to sleep on the streets or in a shelter and even be taken away from her neglectful family and placed in foster care or group homes with strangers imagine this very wealthy families giving five of its children nourishing meals three times a day snacks to fuel boundless energy was sending the sixth child from the table into school hungry with only one or two meals and never the desert the other children enjoy imagine this very wealthy family making sure that five of its children get all of their shops regular health check-ups before they get sick and immediate access to health care when illness strikes but ignoring the sixth child who is plagued by chronic respiratory infections and painful tooth aches which sometimes abscess and kill for lack of a doctor or a dentist my heart was broken last year when a 12 year old named devonte driver in Prince George’s County Maryland died from toothache that obsessed and eventually infected his brains his mother tried to get 25 dentists to take his case but he fell through the cracks of our bifurcated child health system between Medicaid in the child health insurance program but by the time he finally was rushed off to Children’s Hospital and given several operations he died and it’s too late taxpayers paid 250 thousand dollars children should not die from tooth aches and dental abscess in the United States of America in 2008 imagine this family sending five of their children to good stimulating preschools and making sure they have music and swimming lessons and after school sending with the sixth child to unsafe daycare with untrained caregivers responsible for too many children are leaving her occasionally with an accommodating relative or neighbor or older sibling or all alone imagine five of the children living in homes with books and families able to read to most of their children every night believing the other child unread to untucked and unsung to unhooked a prop before television screen or a video game that feeds him violence and sex and racial and gender charged messages intellectual pablum interrupted only by ceaseless ads for material things beyond the child’s grasp imagine this family sending some of their children to high quality schools and safe neighborhoods with enough books and computers and laboratories and science equipment and well-prepared teachers and sending the sixth child to a crumbling school building with peeling ceilings and leaks and letting the paint and asbestos and old old books and not enough of them and teaches untrained in the subjects they teach and with low expectations that all children can learn especially the six child and imagine most of the families children being excited about learning and looking forward to finishing high school going to college getting a job in the sixth child falling farther and farther behind grade level not being able to read wanting to drop out of school and being suspended and expelled at younger and younger rageous because no one has taught him to read and computer diagnosed his attention deficit disorder or treated his health and mental health problems and helped him keep up with his peers imagine five of the children engaged in sports and music and arts and after-school and summer camps and enrichment programs and the sixth child hanging out with peers are going home alone because mom and dad are working or in prison or have run away from their

parenting responsibilities and escaped in drugs and alcohol leaving him alone or on the streets during idols Dom school hours and weeks and months at risk of being sucked into illegal activities in the prison pipeline or killed in our gun saturated nation well this is our American family today we’re one in six of our children lives in poverty in the richest nation on earth more than forty percent in extreme poverty it is not a stable healthy economically sensible or just family our failure to invest in all of our children before they get sick drop out of school get pregnant or get into trouble is morally indefensible and extremely costly every year that we let 13 million children live in poverty costs a half trillion dollars in lost productivity and in the cost of crime and health costs you cannot hurt others especially children without consequences and contrary to popular stereotype America’s sixth child is more than twice as likely to live in a working family than to be on welfare is more likely to be white than black or Latino and is more likely to live in a rural a suburban area than in and in a city but black and Hispanic children are at far greater risk of being poor and of entering the cradle to Prison Pipeline the most dangerous place for a child to try to grow up in America today is at the intersection still of race and poverty racial disparity still permeate all the major American institutions that shape the life chances of millions of children undergirded by poverty those disparities are putting countless children at risk of incarceration and funneling hundreds of thousands of them every year into a pipeline to prison d railing their chances for reaching successful adulthood incarceration is becoming the new American apartheid and poor children of color are the father we must all see understand and sound the alarm about this threat to American unity and community act to stop the growing criminalization of children at younger and younger ages and tackle the unjust treatment of minority use and adults in the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems with urgency and persistence the failure to act now will reverse too much of the hard-earned racial and social progress the dr. King and so many others died in sacrificed for and weaken our future capacity to lead all of us in all sectors must call for investment in all children from birth through their successful transition to adulthood remembering Frederick Douglass’s words that it is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men so many poor babies in rich America enter the world with multiple strikes against them born without prenatal care at low birth weight into a teen poor and truly educated single mother and absent father at crucial points in their development after birth until adulthood more risk pile on making a successful transition to productive adulthood significantly less likely an involvement in the criminal justice system significantly more likely since children of color always have been disproportionately poor their odds of incarceration as adults greatly exceed that of white children black children are more than three times as likely as white children to be poor and are almost six times as likely as white children to be incarcerated a black boy born in 2001 has a one in three chance of going to prison in his lifetime a latino boy a one in six chance a black girl a 1 in 17 chance a white boy a 1 in 17 chance a latina girl 1 in 45 chance the past continues to strangle the present and the future children with an incarcerated parent are more likely to become incarcerated black children nearly nine times in Latino children three times as likely as white children to have an incarcerated parents in blacks and Latinos constitute one fifth of our imprisoned population blacks constitute one-third and Latinos one-fifth of our imprisoned population and one in three black men 20 to 29 year olds who ought to be the fathers in our homes is under congressional correctional supervision or control we

now have the unwanted distinction in my view of being the world’s leading prisoner with 2.3 million people behind bars in jail or in prison and we’ve got a total of seven million people in jail or on parole or unpro Batian unjust drug sentencing policies have greatly escalated the incarceration of minority adults and use now these numbers add up to a black and latino community tragedy but they are growing national catastrophe they are ripping apart millions of families stripping away the right to vote for many blocking the chance to get a job to support a family and they decrease public security is more and more prisoners Rihanna society without the means to legally support themselves and drain taxpayer dollars as increasing billions are spent on massive incarceration of young and old and it is time for us to change course our states are spending on average three times more per prisoner California spending almost four times more per prisoner than for public school pupil I can’t think of a demo in investment policy and I just hope that everybody in California will begin to talk about resetting our economic and political and moral compass child poverty and neglect racial disparities and systems that serve children and the cradle to Prison Pipeline or not acts of God they are our nation’s immoral political and economic choices that can and must be changed with strong political corporate faith and community leadership now no single sector a group can solve these child and nation threatening crises alone but all of us can together and all of us must get leaders who will call us to the table and use their bully pulpits to replace our current paradigm punishment as a first resort with prevention and early intervention a new course will save lives say family save taxpayer money and save our nation’s aspiration to be a fair society a call to count today I don’t believe our country would pass the test of the prophets or the Gospels are all great faiths Christians who profess to believe that God entered human history as a poor vulnerable baby and that each man woman and child is created in God’s own image we need to act on that faith the Jewish Midrash says God agreed to give the people of Israel the tour only after they offered their children as guarantor steaming neither their profits nor their elders sufficient I think it’s time for all of us to heed the prophets call for justice for the orphans and for the week for the marginalize America’s Declaration of Independence says we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men and women and children are created equal and are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights and after more than two centuries I think it’s time to make these truths evident in the lives of all children and especially poor children of color and to close our intolerable national hypocrisy gap America’s six child is waiting for you and for me to welcome them into their rich land and show the world where the democratic capitalism is an oxymoron or can work our national Creed demands that we end child poverty and neglect and abuse now and common sense and self-interest required and I think that our credibility in a world that we seek to leave which is two-thirds non-white and two-thirds poor majority non-white and two-thirds poor I think demands it so ending child poverty is not only an urgent moral necessity it is economically beneficial dr. Robert Solow and MIT know the Lord and economics wrote in a book that he did for the Children’s Defense Fund or cheered for the Children’s Defense Fund called wasting America’s future stated that ending child poverty is at the very least highly affordable more likely it is a gain to the economy and the businesses taxpayers and citizens within and as I get older and I’m really concerned about a healthy social security and medicare system or increasing elderly population but if we’re locking up more and more of our children at younger and younger ages and not giving them the chance to get an acquire the skills they need to function this globalizing economy and california and other states keep filling up the prisons with people we’re going to be in an EPS porting limb rather than supporting us so we don’t like these

other people’s children perhaps we ought to invest in them just because it is in our self-interest to do so they can work for us rather than be dependent on us so let’s figure out what kind of appeal we want to make and let’s see how we can begin to come together to build the spiritual and political will to help our nation not only pass pass the test of the God of history but but prepare for America’s future I am convinced that our failure to invest in all of our children is our economic and moral Achilles heel and is going to rob us of our competitive edge in our leadership capacity in a globalizing world in this new century so what do we do and I think one is that we see the problem that we state the problem that we discussed the problem that we figure out how we’re going to change the problem and what our role is going to be and making sure that each of us is a part of the solution and not a part of the problem it’s time for us to reset our nation’s priorities that have created the greatest gap between rich and poor and our history by committing to invest in the future of every child from birth through college and productive adulthood and I hope that we can stay away from false either ORS between personal family community and societal responsibility for children and from the simplistic solutions that don’t address very complex but solvable problems since all of us are responsible for solving and ensuring our nation’s future I think we all need to figure out how we can work together to put the child’s healthy development in the center of our decision-making for if the child is safe all of us are safe I hope that in this era of extraordinary change and challenge that the United States will make a commitment in 2009 to end indefensible and preventable child poverty by 2015 which is the date of the United Nations millennial development goals for developing nations and that we will commit to ending the racial disparities suffered by millions of black Latino and Native American children who were dis rapport sionally poor no other industrialized nation permits the high rates of child poverty we do or ellipse children be our pores group age group of citizens benjamin franklin said a long time ago that the best family policy is a good job and every American family should have an adequate income based primarily on work and a decent safety net for anyone unable to work and everyone should have a chance to live in healthy safe job rich communities with affordable housing and I don’t want anybody to tell us that we don’t have the money to end child poverty every child could be lifted out of poverty for less than nine months of the tax cuts for the top 1% and four months of the Iraq war we do not have a money problem where we would do right now in some sectors of America but we don’t really have a money problem in America we have a values and priorities problem in America and we must change those and we can change those and what am right moment it is for us to really come to grips with the fact that we have the highest gap between rich and poor that we’ve ever had in recorded history not only in our own nation but in our world and we now know that more and more of it has been built on a house of cards that’s profoundly unjust but I hope this will be a time for national soul-searching and fundamental reordering of our priorities and fundamental debate about who we want to be as a people and what is important to us I think that we’ve made a good start in the stimulus package because I hope that our new president will continue to propose and fight hard for tax relief and for jobs and support for low and moderate income families I’m so pleased with some of the revisions in the stimulus package because while he talked about the importance of a middle-class tax cuts if we add up the refundable tax cuts the poor and children the young have yielded a great have seen a great help forward we haven’t had the kind of money invested in the poor and in trying to reweave our safety net at a time when we are facing lots of enormous problems at a time when our safety net has been its weakest in many many decades but I think that we’ve got a little hope I’m so pleased with the child tax credit and it’s refundable G with earned income tax credit with a number of other tax credits that were made refundable which will help lift millions from poverty and or increase alleviate their pop I think that we got 2.1 billion dollars I was holding my breath two weeks ago in early head start and in head start they

actually in the Senate tried to take away a billion dollars from children and Early Head Start and only three percent of them get it but it got put back in and there’s very major expansion of child nutrition and other programs at a time of growing need but I think that you will find the investment in education and in state and local relief and expanding health care at unemployment compensation a major step forward and I hope that we will continue to see us move more in that direction but with much more focus and jabs and jabs and jabs at liberal wages if we begin to continue this direction and with the kind of leadership we’ve had and we saw how hard it was even in this economic trough we can begin to make progress but we should make the commitment that in this rich rich nation we are going to end child poverty and create for all of our children a level playing field now there are a lot of arguments that we always hear but we need to change some of the terms of the debate people who claim it just costs too much to eliminate child poverty I think we need to change the terms of the debate because it costs too much not to eliminate child poverty I think it’s important that we always say you know people say oh I’m for you but but this is not the right time was always the right time to do right and this is a time clearly when investing in children up front I never realized why it could be so hard to try to get people to invest in prenatal care or invest in immunization movie knows it shaved so many dollars on the other end but I think that children should not be the first to suffer and we must begin to move toward a paradigm of prevention which saved lives as well as saves money and some of the cost effectiveness data is very strong and I hope that we will learn about it and I hope that we will share it and I hope that we will begin to change the terms of the debate a lot of folks say well you know you don’t really count he ate poverty and we had a war on poverty and poverty one I hope that in looking back at the Poor People’s Campaign and at dr. King’s call in 1968 for poor people’s campaign you will find we were investing 40 times less in the office of economic opportunities poverty program than in the war in Vietnam and many people criticized dr. King for calling for poor people’s campaign whether we had a president who had just launched this war on poverty but he understood that you know investing 80 billion dollars a year in the military and two billion dollars a year in fighting poverty was not an equal contest and that we had to challenge the priorities of our nation even then and we should not let wars get in the way or whatever get in the way of trying to do what is right for people and for children here at home folks say nothing works well a lot of things do work we simply have not provided them for all eligibles I mean the fact that only three percent of eligible children get early head start and that they had the tenacity many of them to cut it before the final conference report says we’ve got a lot of work to do and I think the fact that less than two-thirds of all children eligible for head started getting it says we’ve got a lot of work to do and so many people who still are eligible for nutrition programs and a lot of others most of whom were working are not getting them and so I think that we should point out those things at work we should make sure that we dis invest in those things that don’t work but I think that we should be very careful in our homework and really try to talk about building on those programs we know make sense many people say children are not my responsibility their their parents responsibility of course they are and parents should do everything they can to raise and support their children but if parents work and play by the rules and still cannot make ends meet and private sector policies do not protect them a decent and caring country and government must and when jobs are exported abroad and disappeared during recession or economic downturn as we have it now children should not suffer no one should suffer and no child should be punished for arms they did not choose now many people say the poor should not have babies they cannot support nobody should have babies they cannot support either emotionally or financially but who among us is the right to decide who should bear a child a blame and punish children for their parents actions and I think it would it’s time for us all to begin to figure out how to help rather than judge or blame or punish the poor or non poor who neglect their children many people say class warfare if we talk about redistributing income to the poor well I don’t think anybody should contend this in light of governmental policies that historically have provided and continue to provide tax breaks and subsidies to

the richest and most powerful corporations and individuals who should have the first call and government resources those who need most are those who have most and how can it be fair than on a recent year 46 companies paid no federal income taxes while reporting combined profits of over forty three billion dollars and indeed they collectively received tax rebates totaling almost five and a half billion dollars and when we look at this absolute economic debacle and extraordinary corporate welfare that we have been supporting as taxpayers I think it’s time to gain to have greater balance in our policies when we were pushing last year for health coverage for all children we were told that we couldn’t afford it and we were also told that we had to find a way to pay for it and so we scrambled around we needed 70 billion dollars to cover all children with what we wanted was an expanded child health program building on the chip reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program that just got signed two weeks ago but didn’t finish the job but we had to find the 70 billion they said we couldn’t they came up with 50 billion two years ago President Bush be toda they went down to 35 billion saying again we couldn’t afford it you see how quickly they found that seven hundred billion dollars to bail out those corporate people again it’s not about money it’s about our absence of voice and our unclear parties I don’t I have them tell me that we can’t afford to give all of our children all of our people this year health coverage it’s long overdue and I hope that you will absolutely not take no for an answer now the third step we can take in trying to dismantle this cradle to Prison Pipeline who got to close off all the entry points into this pipeline no other industrialized nation that’s its children go without prenatal care that’s so much cheaper to provide cost-effective prenatal care than to keep very low birth weight babies and expensive neonatal intensive care units and so we really this year want to get a commitment from our leaders and make reality coverage for every pregnant mother and every child we have had reintroduced in the Congress two weeks ago the all healthy Children’s Act all is the operative word I tell members of Congress and everybody that I have three sons and I wouldn’t think of giving one of them health care and not giving the other two health care God did not make two classes of children and the United States we have to give a commitment to all the chip bill that was signed was not health care for all children and while it’s a step forward it gave four million i will give four million new children health care over a five-year period not enough I mean children have only one childhood children sitting up in classrooms unable to see the blackboard unable to hear the teacher with attention deficit disorders those Katrina children are still sitting there suffering from post-traumatic trials trauma stress disorders unable to to really get themselves back on a normal trajectory they can’t wait for another three or four years and it’s very important and you’ve got lowest caps out here and she’s wonderful she’s a hundred percent on our voting record but I want you to tell her to go get on that all healthy Children’s Act which has been reintroduced and we want to get it done this year the chip bill left 526 million children out of the healthcare house it did no structural reforms to make sure that we have a unified child health system we now have two fragmented children’s health systems Medicaid for children which is counter-cyclical guarantees health care regardless of economic downturn and has a comprehensive benefit package that includes mental and dental help chip is not an entitlement program and states are cutting back on it can cut out all the program or cut back on individual benefits and in some states because of the way the rules work you can have two children in the same family one eligible for Medicaid guaranteed comprehensive benefits and the other eligible for chip because of the age and no guaranteed benefits and no guaranteed services at all we should put the two together and have one child health system so that children don’t continue to fall through the cracks six million of a 9 million uninsured children today are eligible for either Medicaid and CHIP but they keep falling through the bureaucratic chaps cracks we must close them and so while I work very hard and we should all work very hard for all Americans to get health coverage this year if we don’t get all of us but any reason they make an excuse and said we cannot get health care for every American we should insist that we start this year with all pregnant women and

with all children with a simple system one child health system and we should make it easy the value is to get children all into health care and not to make it as hard as we can to get into health care and we would have children automatically enrolled at birth automatic enrolled in the healthcare system if they are eligible for any means-tested program with their and Early Head Start there and WIC if they start school they go to childcare there in the health care system and so that you should presume them eligible but the point is to prevent the problems before they become serious and so I hope that you will let your Congress people know and Nancy Pelosi know that we didn’t finish the job with chip the president’s campaign promises said he was going to have a child health mandate chip was not that mandate we need to finish the job we can’t leave 56 million children out there but most importantly we must have a national safety net we must Garin see every child regardless of where they live comprehensive get coverage and not leave them out there in two separate programs in 50 different states we can’t fight 50 different state battles as we have struggled to do over the last decades or so every child is of equal value and they should not be penalized for the lottery of geography and a child in Mississippi with haley barbour having been be their governor is not should not have any less value to America that a child in Massachusetts or a child anywhere else and so with all the struggle we’ve had here in California to try to get health coverage for all children it is now clear it’s time for us to do it nationally and to do it right and to make sure that every child gets what they need to be able to start off life without three or four strikes against them and I do hope you will help look at our website at the Children’s Defense Fund look at the provisions of the old health the Children’s Act make your voice heard so they’re all those million more children California who still don’t have health coverage will be able to get it and that means health and mental health coverage the mental health system in our country is still a disaster there are thousands of children sitting up in juvenile detention facilities solely because their parents could not find mental health coverage in their communities you shouldn’t have to be detained and go to jail in order to get mental health coverage and American so we can do something about that but please make yourself heard we know step 4 how important early childhood development is and I applaud the efforts of your education school every child should have good parent child home visiting programs if these vulnerable parents don’t know how to parent you can’t teach what you don’t know quality Early Head Start head start child care preschool to get every child ready for school and we need to break down all these silos the child care people don’t talk to the preschool people they don’t talk to the after-school people let’s get it together and think about children children don’t come in pieces and we must all come together to have an investment in high quality early childhood care and Development Program which will yield far high great returns I’m far beyond their success in school into adulthood but the key is going to be quality and we must make sure that we do that now so that we can prevent the problems from occurring we’ve got to dramatically increase the number of children who enter the child welfare system of poor child is 22 times more likely to be neglected or abused and to face removal from home than a non poor child the overburdened and underfinanced child welfare system is a major feeder system into the cradle to Prison Pipeline and a perpetuator of racial disparities and in my new book i do right about the faith community needs to open up their doors we’ve got over 350,000 congregations faith of all faiths and you know of any just ten percent of them decided they were going to find a few foster parents or a few adoptive parents we could clean out the child welfare system and if we had just a few of them or ten percent of them to open up their doors to provide after-school programs and safe havens from the streets we could cut down on so many vulnerable children who are at the mercy of their peers the gangs and the drug dealers are open 24 hours a day seven days a week where are the institutions that are competing with them for our children’s values and I can prove time and so I hope all of you who are people of faith will go back and say reach out and be present for children and if the foster care children coming out of the system and juvenile justice children coming back out of the system they had a community of support they could keep them from having to return to prison and had a sense that there was a lifeline of hope but the institutions in our communities really need to begin to function again and to make children a centerpiece of their lives school school schools should be a part of the solution

not the problem but you know children can’t read and we’re criminalizing children at younger and younger ages and zero-tolerance drug policies have carried over now into zero-tolerance discipline policies and we get six-year-old seven-year-old 8 year old children not only being expelled and suspended from school but they’re being arrested with two and three police officers hand cupping children on school grounds for behaviors it used to be handled in the principal’s office or by calling a parent or grandparent I think sometimes we adults have lost our common sense and we need to begin to have some pho debate and community outcry about arresting six and seven eight year old children and about explosions these children are crying out for help and I have never understood why we expel children or suspension who are truant and don’t come to school they need to be in school we need to begin to think about what makes sense and we need to get some real debate about failing policies I’m so pleased about the investment of this university and education I can’t not tell you how proud I am that none of my children went to law school that all of them have gone into one form of education or another I think that education and teaching and and being a principal or working with children is the new civil rights frontier and I just urge folk to see this is the calling that it is and with Teach for America and many of the things that are going on I hope that we will all begin to stress far more the absolute importance of this teacher quality teacher caring absolutely crucial as well as good educational leadership the principles are very important but I just can’t applaud more those who are going into it but then I say for goodness sakes if you don’t don’t love children and if you don’t have high expectations for all children because children see through hypocrisy and if you don’t respect and expect all children to learn please don’t go into teaching please go do something else and we should begin to weed out teachers who are reinforcing so many of the negative images that children have who have so few supports in their homes in their communities but I just hope that we will continue to see more and more people who care about children and who care about the future of our workforce and who care about the development of our children this globalizing world that will go into education so I thank you for your investments in this area lastly we must really link every child to a permanent and caring family member adult mentor who can keep them on track and get them back on track when they stray no parent while parents are the most important people in children’s lives can raise a child alone the tix neighbors and it takes community it takes congregations it takes schools all working together children don’t come in pieces they come in families families live in communities communities are shaped by the policies and valleys of their states and local policies and by their national policies and all of them are shaped by the cultural signals of what we value and dr. King warned about three triple evils of militarism and excessive materialism and racism and poverty and we have got to all work together to reweave the fabric of family and reweave the fabric of community and really begin to make sure the children have things to do in carrying places with caring people after school and in the summer and you’re going to see a quick video at the end of my talk about our choices seeing children go off into the cradle to Prison Pipeline or seeing children we’re going into freedom schools in the summer with caring college students and mentors children are in school only seventeen percent of their time what are they going to do for the rest of their times and so they need to have our communities come together and to provide them high quality summer enrichment programs that start summer learning loss and really help disadvantaged children retain and expand their school year learning gains but more importantly they need to have young people work with them full of energy they don’t need Michael Jordan is a role model they need young people black and latino and white and poor who grew up in the neighborhoods where they grew up went on to college you’re coming back to give back and I’m just so proud of the young people who are coming back and Freedom Schools is one of the antidotes to the cradle to Prison Pipeline and you’ll see that choice we have about 1200 1300 college students who get trained in our leadership center down at the form of Alex Haley farm in Tennessee but we need to happen we have 139 Freedom Schools we need to have thousands of them and you watch the excitement of blur about learning and you watch the energy and you watch how children feel affirmed and you also watch them really making a couple of years reading gains if they come to freedom schools for three summers for

six weeks they end up picking up 2.2 million two years in reading gain because they love the books they love the excitement and so we need to make learning fun and we need to have caring inspiring teachers need to reform the Jubilee Estes system and to deflect children into more constructive alternatives and there are examples in Missouri where they really change the entire juvenile justice system and they now have a focus on youth development on mental health and rehabilitation of young people and the recidivism rate is only seven percent and they are saving money and we’re going to be highlighting the Missouri juvenile justice reforms in a conference this week in Sacramento but the point is we can change these systems with good leadership and with focus on children lastly we’re going to build a movement to get this done though I think we know what to get done the important thing is for us to come together and take our responsibility to make our nation realize its best goals we have such a marvelous opportunity now with our new air and their new leadership to come together in movement and finish the job of the civil rights movement the Children’s Defense Fund was designed to put the social and economic underpinnings beneath the political and civil rights that had not been completed and that’s what our job is today and we have a chance to write another movement for freedom and for justice and in this new era with our gifted new leader and at this transformative moment we can get it done but it’s going to take all of us it’s going to take sacrifice is going to take hard work is going to take persistence and perhaps because things are so difficult and all of us who thought it might never happen to us or finding that it could happen to us and that we’re standing in those food stamp lines and we’re losing our homes and we’ve got to do something that perhaps we will be able to see ourselves in a clear way but what a moment of opportunity for us but it is time to hunker down I’d like to tell the story of a Phillip Randolph going to see President Franklin Roosevelt about need for in discrimination and to have more jobs in the black community and Franklin Roosevelt listened to a Phillip Randolph very sympathetically and said to him Phil I agree with everything you just said now you go out and make me do it there are no friends in politics whoever makes the noise whoever makes those extra calls whoever makes just just refuse to give up and just we need to be good good pest that’s who’s going to move things and we’re going to change our compass our moral compass in our economic compass for children as we must and bring us back together as one people and as one community as our president is calling us to do you and I just have to go to work I love Sojourner Truth who my where have been wearing sojourn in Harriet Tubman outside all year but she was the one who spoke out against slavery and second-class treatment of women and she got heckled one day but old white man who said old slave woman I don’t care anymore about you anti-slavery talked and for an old flea bite and she snapped right back at him and said that’s all right the lord willing I’m going to keep you scratching so often we get so overwhelmed by these big problems and we do have big problems and we need to transform in a fundamental way how our institutions function and and how we can change that the economic structures that impede the growth and and and and the ability of children to even get on the trajectory toward success in America but you know enough fleas biting strategically can make very big dogs uncomfortable and I can’t tell you how important your votes are how important your phone calls and your emails if F the folk who went to prayer meetings and Wednesday night and went to Bible study decided they would you know pray in action and make calls and if you’re calm people heard from a hundred of you once a week saying we want health care for every child or we want to end child poverty you know you could do it so we need to take responsibility with the transformation that our country is waiting for and what for which this is now the time let me just end with poem by an Weems and show you the video and then we’ll be done because our big problems damaged from our belief and there’s a distinction our children other people’s children but if we believe that all children are sacred and that every child is made in the image of God then we are obligated to protect each child as our own and I love her porn the green lyst child when she says I watched this green lyst child go uncelebrated into the second grade gray among the orange

and yellow a green lyst child attach too much to corners and other people’s sunshine she colors the rainbow Brown and leaves balloons unopened in their packages oh who will touch this green lyst child who will plant Alleluias in her heart and send her dancing into all the colors of god or will she be left like an unwrapped package on the kitchen table too dull for anyone to take the trouble is God think we are her keeper I think God thinks we are her keeper and I think from the bottom of my heart all of you who are working this either all these green lyst child children can flourish and become the people the God intense oh thank you look at our choices and then we’ll have some questions thank you so much you you you