Interview with Marian Wright Edelman

So what happened with the idea right after that into the fall?


Oh, all the SCLC machinery, ah, went into place, ah, you know the planning for mule trains and to get the poor from all over the country, ah, to Washington, ah, began to take place. I mean these were large, logistical exercises. I went back to doing my, ah, work in Mississippi but in the interim had decided to move to Washington because it became clear to me that I could continue to try as many lawsuits as I did in, in Mississippi but unless, ah, the Justice Department and HEW were doing its job in making sure that the schools were desegregated, that we were not going to have a massive impact. I could continue to come to Washington, as I did often, to get, help get the Head Start Program, ah, the Child Development Group of Mississippi, which is the seeds of CDF today, ah, refunded and to try to answer Senator Stennis that unless the poor had someone there who was looking out for their interest all the time, ah, and that could provide an early alert system and, and, and answer back the Stennises who were misstating the facts about what poor parents and poor people's programs were doing, that we'd never make any, any significant progress. And that while all of us had correctly and with limited resources, ah, engaged in principal setting litigation and worked to pass major new civil rights laws, ah, that unless somebody was in there trying to help implement them, to make sure that people were aware of their rights, to make sure that there were good regulations and to make sure that there was a voice in, in Washington we would not have the kind of ongoing change, so that, ah, I prepared myself to phase out my Mississippi work and then to move to Washington.