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Commencement Speaker

Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) and one of the nation’s leading advocates for children, families and disadvantaged Americans, will deliver the keynote address at Colgate’s 184th commencement exercises on Sunday, May 15.

Under Edelman’s leadership, CDF has become the nation’s strongest voice for children and families.

She has received many honorary degrees and awards including the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Prize, the Heinz Award, and a MacArthur Foundation Prize Fellowship. In 2000, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award.

The decision to invite Edelman came from the senior class, according to senior class tri-president Carrie Guay.

“A classmate advocated Edelman as not only an honorary degree recipient but also as the commencement speaker,” said Guay. “Her insight and experiences should be very inspirational to the Class of 2005.”

Edelman received the Robert F. Kennedy Lifetime Achievement Award for her writings, which include seven books: “Families in Peril: An Agenda for Social Change”; “The Measure of Our Success: A Letter to My Children and Yours”; “Guide My Feet: Meditations and Prayers on Loving and Working for Children”; Stand for Children; Lanterns: A Memoir of Mentors”; “Hold My Hand: Prayers for Building a Movement to Leave No Child Behind”; and “I’m Your Child, God: Prayers for Our Children.”

A graduate of Spelman College and Yale Law School, Edelman became the first black woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar and was the first woman elected to the Yale University Corp. She has worked with Martin Luther King, Jr., held leadership positions with the NAACP and was the Director of the Center for Law and Education at Harvard University. 


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