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Marian Wright Edelman to Speak at Duke's 2008 MLK Commemoration
Editor's Note: A video of Duke students reflecting on the relevance of King's legacy today is available on the university's 2008 Martin Luther King Jr. celebration website.
Durham, NC - Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children's Defense Fund and civil rights lawyer, will be the keynote speaker at Duke University's 2008 Martin Luther King Jr. celebration.
The event, which begins at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 20, in Duke Chapel, is free and open to the public. Parking is available in the Bryan Center parking garage; directions are available in the campus map.
The program in the chapel will include performances by the Voices of Peace choir from Peace Missionary Baptist Church in Durham; Collage Dance, a youth dance company based at the Hayti Heritage Center; and the Duke Jazz Ambassadors student band.
In the 1960s, Edelman participated in the civil rights movement by protesting segregated lunch counters in Atlanta, working for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in New York, advocating for poor children in Mississippi and helping King organize the Poor People's March on Washington, among other things. In 1973, she founded the Children's Defense Fund to lobby for programs supporting poor and vulnerable children. She was the first black woman admitted to the Mississippi bar and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
"Young people have taken up important struggles since Dr. King was assassinated," Edelman said in an interview. "Many effective social justice movements are campus-based -- anti-war mobilizations, get-out-the-vote drives, divestment in companies doing business with Sudan to aid the oppressed in Darfur.
"It was gratifying to see university students respond to the racist persecution of the Jena Six with demonstrations across the country," she said. "Youth are also engaged in other forms of activism like tutoring and volunteering for Habitat for Humanity."
Ben Reese, one of the King committee co-chairs and Duke's vice president for institutional equity, said one reason Edelman was asked to speak was because of her ongoing work lobbying for policies that benefit children.
"Martin Luther King often spoke of creating a more-just society for future generations," he said. "Marian Wright Edelman carries forward that passion and determination for our children -- for a society of safety, social justice and educational enrichment."
Edelman's address is part of a series of events at Duke celebrating King. The events' theme, "The Power of Youth," focuses on caring for children and how college students can bring about social reform.
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