On May 22, 2012, Northern California Grantmakers hosted a special briefing at San Francisco City Hall with Mayor Ed Lee and children’s advocate Marian Wright Edelman, Founder and President of the Children’s Defense Fund. The program, sponsored by the Rosenberg Foundation, Mayor Ed Lee’s Office, and NCG was a festive event that included guests from NCG’s membership, San Francisco government and school district officials, and non-profit leaders such as the Rev. Cecil Williams of Glide Memorial.
Ms Edelman, who was the first African American woman admitted to the Mississippi state bar delivered a sobering, yet inspiring talk on the state of children in this country and encouraged everyone in the room to do their part to change the plight of youth, particularly Black and Latino youth, in this country.
Here are a few bleak statistics that Ms. Edelman shared:
• A public school student is suspended every second
• A high school student drops out every 8 seconds
• A public school student is corporally punished every 20 seconds
• A child is arrested every 21 seconds
• A child is born into poverty every 34 seconds
• A child is abused or neglected every 47 seconds
• A baby is born without health insurance every 87 seconds
• A child is killed by a firearm every 3 hours – more than 7 a day – and is killed by abuse or neglect every 5 and a half hours
• Every minute a baby is born to a teen mother and every 3 minutes to a mother who had little or no prenatal care. Every 9 hours a baby’s mother dies in childbirth. Black babies are 4 times as likely as White babies to have their mother die in childbirth.
Ms. Edelman, who was in town to share her work with The Black Crusade for Children, ended the presentation with a call to action noting that these statistics will only get worse without the help of all. The Black Community Crusade for Children (BCCC), a program of the Children’s Defense Fund was organized “to confront a deepening crisis faced by Black children and is calling on America to take action against a toxic cocktail of poverty, illiteracy, racial disparity, violence and massive incarceration that is sentencing millions of children of color to dead end, powerless and hopeless lives and threatens to undermine the past half century of racial and social progress.”
Her appeal included four requests. That we stand up for children by:
1) Not missing the boat in achieving positive outcomes for youth; the time is now
2) Knowing that we are all in this together; therefore we are on the same boat
3) Not believing the naysayers who will tell you that the problem can’t be solved
4) Realizing that Noah’s ark was built by amateurs, not professionals; therefore we must not rely on leaders to fix the problem, but grassroots organizing efforts.
In the words of Ms. Edelman: “If we don’t stand up for children, then we don’t stand for much. “
For more information about the program, please visit NCG’s events calendar.