Interview with Marian Wright Edelman

You told me about getting up in the morning.


You told me something on the phone about in the response to, is the movement dead, getting up in the morning and going on. Can you tell me about that?


Well I get very annoyed when people ask me whether the movement died in 1968. I mean the movement didn't die. It changed forms. You get up, as I got up the next morning and lots of other people got up in the morning, after, after the Poor People's Campaign ended and Martin got killed or Bobby got killed and we figured out what we would do next. I remember a group of us sitting around behind, after Martin's funeral, to say, what are we going to do next. I mean what you do next is you go home and you get a good night's sleep and you think about how you get up tomorrow, ah, and you carry on his work. But the movement simply took new forms after 1968. The advocacy that I'm doing today on behalf of children is a direct result of what went on in the late '60s. But it was very clear that we had to develop new strategies, new ways of framing issues, new ways of tapping into the broader self interest, ah, so that Whites would perceive it as their self interest. As always it has been in their self interest to deal with issues of race and class and so we began to talk about children rather than poor adults and to talk about prevention and to show the ways in which the deprivations that Black and poor children face also affect middle class and, and non poor children and White children. And so we were creating, setting out on a long path of building a new highway to the future and to create a new politics for change that would have new names and hopefully a broader constituency. And it was excruciatingly hard in the early years. But you know, fifteen years later, ah, twenty years later I think it was clearly the right new path because this nation now is coming absolutely face to face with the fact that unless it invests in its children and its non-White and poor children as much as its privileged and White ones, it is not going to be able to lead morally in the new century nor is it going to be able to compete economically. So for the first time in my years of being an advocate for the poor and disadvantaged and for children, doing what is morally right, what Dr. King called for twenty years ago, thirty years ago, ah, and doing what is absolutely necessary to save our national skin, ah, has converged. So the nation is going to have to deal with Dr. King's issues, ah, or die.


For me, for cutting purposes, Bobby can you pull in tight on this one?