Lauren Boxx
Category: 2023 College Winner

Lauren Boxx

When trying to think of a Black American individual that inspired change in my life, I did not have to think for a very long time. Marian Wright Edelman was the first person that came to my mind compared to other well known people such as Martin Luther King or Harriet Tubman. Marian Wright Edelman has always inspired me to make changes in my life after I did a report about her when I was only in fifth grade. Marian was the first African American Woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar once she graduated from Yale’s Law School. Not only was she the first African American woman to do this, but she did not stop succeeding after graduation.

Marian Wright Edelman continued to push for what she knew was right and even worked alongside Martin Luther King Jr. when he started a campaign by the name of “Poor People’s Campaign”. Once she established more ground in her civil rights work, she founded the Children’s Defense Fund in 1973. This fund advocated for children with disabilities, children of color, and poor children. When learning about Marian founding the CDF at a very young age, I found it hard to understand why this needed to be created because every child deserves equal rights and care. However, as I got older and understood how cruel the world is, I soon understood how much of an impact the founding of the CDF had on the world.

The CDF also pushed for the passage of many new laws that would give children equal opportunities for education. This is something that should already be given to all children but there has been the harsh reality that not everything has always been equal. Throughout my life, I have seen this more and more as I volunteer every summer at a camp for girls with disabilities while I am also pursuing a career as a future speech pathologist. Many children with disabilities are not given the same opportunities mostly because institutions do not want to make accommodations for them. Marian inspires me to always make sure that everyone is receiving equal opportunities because it is their basic human right.

Learning more about Marian’s efforts made me realize how similar the CDF is to the ADA. Marian founded the CDF in 1973 but it wasn’t until 1990 that the ADA was passed. The ADA is one of the most important things to make sure that people are receiving equal rights. An example of this would be a job employer refusing to hire someone because they are in a wheelchair and do not want to make accommodations. This is in fact illegal yet most people do not know a lot about the ADA. I feel that it is important for everyone to learn about the CDF as well as the ADA so that more people are informed and can correct injustice when they see it. Marian Wright Edelman’s efforts have inspired me to make sure that everyone receives equal opportunities.