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.