Hidden Women

The First Black Woman to practice law in Mississippi

Marian Wright attended racially segregated public schools, but excelled academically despite the inadequate opportunities offered to her in those institutions. After graduation Wright attended Spelman College, a prominent institution for black women in Atlanta, Georgia. While at Spelman Wright received scholarships to study abroad that took her to Paris, Switzerland, and the Soviet Union. With that experience she planned to pursue a career in Foreign Service, but as the 1960s civil rights movement unfolded, she found herself involved in its activities. Wright participated in and was arrested in Atlanta, Georgia sit-ins in 1960. These experiences made her realize that she could contribute to social progress through the study of law. She entered Yale Law School in 1960 on a scholarship and received her law degree in 1963.

In 1973, Ms. Marian Wright Edelman organized the Children’s Defense Fund. It aimed to help children be healthy, stay in school, and avoid teenage pregnancy. The CDF also worked to prevent childhood abuse and drug abuse. The organization became one of the leading national advocates for children.

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