Every nine seconds of a school day, an American high school student drops out.
Every 47 seconds as we sit here, an American child is confirmed as abused or neglected.
Every 32 seconds an American child is born into poverty.
Every 70 seconds a baby is born without health insurance.
Every three hours and fifteen minutes an American child or teen is killed by a firearm ...

These sobering and frightening statistics are quoted by Marian Wright Edelman, founder and head of the Children's Defense Fund as a voice for poor, minority, and disabled children. In an inspiring commencement speech given in 2014 at Lewis & Clark College, she challenges us to wake up and witness that:

"The bombs poised to blow up the American Dream emanate from no enemies without. They are ticking away within ourselves, our families, our communities and our lack of community, and our moral drift. America's moral and economic compass needs resetting."

Today Edelman crusades for children with the same fire and gusto that she did on the dangerous civil rights front lines in Mississippi decades ago. Both then and now, freedom was the goal — freedom from poverty, abuse, hunger, homelessness, poor schooling, and lack of health care.

Born on this day in 1939, Edelman attended black Spelman College in Atlanta and Yale Law School. She is a relentless advocate for children and spends time lobbying Congress on behalf of the young. If there is one quotation of hers that sums up her life and work it is the following, from The Measure of Our Success: "Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life and not something you do in your spare time."

To Name This Day:


Let one of these quotes be your inspiration for serving others today:

"Be a good ancestor. Stand for something bigger than yourself. Add value to the Earth during your sojourn."

" Be real. Try to do what you say, say what you mean, and be what you seem."

"Use your own citizen power, your voting power, your individual power and speak up to wrest our ships of state from that small group of experts and powerful and greedy corporate pirates who recklessly jeopardize all of our futures and professed values for personal gain and a greed."

"The greatest threat to America's national and economic security does not come from any enemy without but from our failure to invest in and educate all of our children."

A Prayer to the God of Children

Here is a powerful, moving prayer by Marion Wright Edelman, from her 2017 Stanford University Baccalaureate address:

"O God of the children of Syria and Sudan, of Iraq, Iran and Israel, of Nigeria, Myanmar, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and of the West Bank and Gaza, because we believe in the God of all children, wherever they are,
Of Chicago, Cleveland, Darfur and Detroit and Ferguson,
Help us to step up to the plate and make sure that they are safe and protected,
Of Libya, Yemen and Ukraine, England and Turkey,

"Help us to love and respect and protect them all.

"O God of Black and Brown and White and Albino children and those all mixed together,
Of children who are rich and poor and in between,
Of children who speak English and Russian and Hmong and Hebrew and Arabic languages and dialects our ears cannot discern,

"Help us to love and respect and protect them all.

"O God of the child prodigy and child prostitute, of the child of rapture and the child of rape,
Of runaway or thrown away children who struggle every day without parent or place or friend or future,

"Help us to love and respect and protect them all.

"O God of children who can walk and talk and hear and see and sing and dance and jump and play, and of children who wish they could but can’t,
Of children who are loved and unloved, wanted and unwanted,

"Help us to love and respect and protect them all.

"O God of beggar, beaten, abused, neglected, homeless, AIDS-, drug-, violence-, war- and hunger-ravaged children,
Of children who are emotionally, physically or mentally fragile, and of children who rebel and ridicule, torment and taunt,

"Help us to love and respect and protect them all.

"O God of children of destiny and of despair, of war and of peace,
Of disfigured, diseased, and dying children,
Of children without hope and of children with hope to spare and to share,

"Help us to love and respect and protect them all."

Create your own prayer to God for the children in need. What can you do to ease their suffering and pain?