Mrs. Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund and Presidential Medal of Honor recipient, engaged with local and state policymakers, community leaders, Deaconess partners and family as the inaugural speaker in Deaconess' series of Just for Kids (J4K) Community Conversations.
During a luncheon conversation themed "Building a Community Just for Kids: A Family Forum for Deaconess Grantees," Mrs. Edelman shared various strategies and encouragement regarding non-profit advocacy for public policy on behalf of all children and to end child poverty in the world's wealthiest nation.
"There are not two classes of children," said Mrs. Edelman. "We must want for other children what we want for our own children."
Having served as the policy counsel for the Poor People's Campaign that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. began organizing in 1968, Mrs. Edelman addressed, among others, local and state policymakers at the evening reception and challenged them to hold the line on the fifty pieces of legislation that arose out of the Poor People's Campaign and to put forth policy that will end child poverty.
"The number of poor children in Missouri, 261,353, is more than six times greater than the population of the state capitol, Jefferson City," said Mrs. Edelman. "There is no reason that should be; God runs a full employment economy - if you see a need, do something."
Mrs. Edelman put forth policy initiatives that would reduce child poverty in Missouri such as increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour and enacting an Earned Income Tax Credit.
Honorary Co-Hosts United States Senators Roy D. Blunt and Claire C. McCaskill welcomed Mrs. Edelman to St. Louis.
The J4K Community Conversations series is a set of public forums on topics that advance the work of child advocates through public policy and racial equity. The series is made possible with support from the estate of the late Mrs. Ruth and Rev. Carl C. Rasche, historian of The Deaconess Heritage and president emeritus of Deaconess Hospital, respectively.
Upcoming J4K Community Conversations - 2018
August 4 - Fearless Dialogues: Dr. Gregory Ellison II, Emory University Chandler School of Theolog
August 21 - Faith Communities and Child Welfare: Dr. William C. Bell, Casey Family Programs
September 20 - Equity, Growth, and Community: Dr. Manuel Pastor, University of Southern California
October 23 - How Change Happens: Leslie Crutchfield, Georgetown University McDonough School of Business