Wright Edelman

Marc Morial

Chris Van Hollen


A Child Advocate’s Beatitudes

Below is a prayer for child advocates. Teachers and school administrators are always on the front lines advocating for children so maybe one of them could use this today as s/he is preparing for the new school year. They are not alone. Parents and grandparents and all who care for children and strive to be good role models for them are child advocates. Doctors, social workers and others who work with and serve children are child advocates. Librarians and coaches are child advocates. Political leaders who put children first are child advocates. And all are joined by the millions of people, with or without children of their own, who spend time and talent fighting for just policies and practices that help children and families and all who are vulnerable and needy.

A Child Advocate’s Beatitudes

(Inspired by Clarence Jordan’s Sermon on the Mount)

Blessed are the poor in spirit—who do not measure themselves by money or worldly power but who ask God for what they need and are not mired in pride—for theirs is the kingdom of God.

Blessed are those who mourn—who are concerned about the needs of children and the poor and others in need who cannot speak for themselves—for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek—who do not seek only their own good but their neighbors’ too—for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness—who do not work for the praise of others or earthly gain or fame and share gladly their talents, energy and money—for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful—who know they are sinners and are dependent on God’s and others’ forgiveness every minute of every day—for they will receive mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart—who are not hypocrites but who struggle to live what they preach—for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers—who do not prepare for war while talking about peace, who do not kill others in order to stop killing, who do not love just those who love them but reach out to make their enemies friends—for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake—who do not run or waver in the face of criticism, threats, or death—for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who speak kindly and not meanly of others—who do not tear down others but build them up for the kingdom’s work and children’s well-being—for they shall receive their reward.

Blessed are the just—who do not adhere to the letter of the law and regulations for some but ignore them for others—for they will hear God’s well done.


Marian Wright Edelman is President of the Children’s Defense Fund whose Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. For more information go to

Mrs. Edelman’s Child Watch Column also appears each week on The Huffington Post.



Ferguson Empowerment Center a Tribute To Movement for Social Change that Followed Michael Brown’s Death

“Ferguson was used by some of America’s enemies and critics to deflect attention from their shortcomings overseas; to undermine our efforts to promote justice around the world … But America is special not because we’re perfect; America is special because we work to address our problems, to make our union more perfect.  We fight for more justice.  We fight to cure what ails us.  We fight for our ideals, and we’re willing to criticize ourselves when we fall short.  And we address our differences in the open space of democracy -- with respect for the rule of law; with a place for people of every race and religion; and with an unyielding belief that people who love their country can change it.”

—President Barack Obama  


Three years ago this week, a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, fatally shot an unarmed, Black 18-year-old named Michael Brown. The anger and unrest sparked by that shooting came to be symbolized by the image of a burning convenience store on West Florissant Avenue. And it presented one of the greatest challenges of his career for Michael McMillan, who’d been appointed President and CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis just a year before.

Last week, hope rose from the ashes as Michael McMillan and I opened the National Urban League Conference with the dedication of the Ferguson Community Empowerment Center, built upon the foundation of that convenience store.

I could not have imagined a more appropriate way to mark the opening of the National Urban League Conference, or an event more representative of the work of the Urban League Movement.

After Michael Brown’s tragic death, activists and advocates from across the nation, activists and advocates converged upon Ferguson, rightly and justly bringing the eyes and ears of America to focus on a violent injustice. When the marchers and the protestors had moved on, it was the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, under McMillan’s outstanding leadership, who went to work, literally building upon that foundation.

Where once the flames of righteous anger burned, lives will be transformed. 

The building is shared by the Salvation Army and the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, and will house the Urban League’s Save Our Sons program, is one of the most successful job placement initiatives anywhere in the nation.  While in St. Louis, I had the pleasure to meet Willard Donlow Jr.

A little over a year ago, 35-year-old Willard Donlow, Jr., found himself in a deep depression. A single father, newly divorced, he had lost his job. He was praying for a way out. And his prayer was answered. Through Save Our Sons,  he learned new computer skills, how to craft a resume, how to network, how to present yourself in the right manner at an interview. How to find a job, and how to keep a job.

Just three days after completing the program, he was offers a job, and he’s hard at work redeveloping abandoned buildings here in St Louis. Join me in congratulating Willard Dunlow.

Lives are being transformed.

As part of the opening ceremonies last week, we dedicated a memorial to Michael Brown. The concrete slab into which a bench and plaque are set is flecked with pink, orange and yellow. These colors are the shreds of 100 stuffed animals, left as part of a makeshift memorial in the middle of the street where Brown died. The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis kept the offerings in storage when the street had to be cleared.

The plaque reads, “This bench and decorative concrete base commemorate the social justice, change and movement towards a more just society that came about after his death. This base contains pieces of his memorial in the Canfield Green Apartments complex brought by people from all over the world.”

The Ferguson Empowerment Center stands as a tribute to the Urban League Movement’s mission to create a more just society, and the young men whose lives will be transformed there will be a testament to that mission.



Van Hollen, Klobuchar Introduce Legislation to Ensure a Better Deal for Seniors on Prescription Drug Costs

Washington, D.C.—Today U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) joined Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) in introducing legislation to unleash the bargaining power of seniors for a better deal on prescription drug costs. The legislation would allow for Medicare to negotiate the best possible price of prescription drugs to cut costs for nearly 41 million seniors enrolled in Medicare Part D. Current law only allows for bargaining by pharmaceutical companies and bans Medicare from doing so.

“Seniors in Maryland and across the country are burdened by the skyrocketing prices of essential and lifesaving medications, and they deserve better,” Senator Van Hollen said. “Allowing Medicare to negotiate the best possible price is a common sense reform that will help control costs for the millions of Americans struggling to afford care. It is imperative that we work to improve our health care system, and making prescription drugs more affordable is a key pillar of that effort.”

“Medicare is one of the largest drug purchasers in the country. It makes no sense that it’s restricted from negotiating the best deal with drug manufacturers,” Senator Klobuchar said. “American seniors deserve a better deal. This legislation would leverage the bargaining power of nearly 41 million seniors to negotiate less expensive prices under Medicare.”

The legislation would allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services to directly negotiate with drug companies for price discounts for the Medicare Prescription Drug Program, eliminating the “non-interference” clause that expressly bans Medicare from negotiating for the best possible prices. By harnessing the bargaining power of nearly 41 million seniors, Medicare could negotiate bigger discounts than pharmaceutical companies.

Senator Van Hollen has also cosponsored legislation to improve the Affordable Care Act by tackling the cost of prescription drugs, and has cosponsored legislation to allow Americans to import safe, low-cost medicine from Canada.

Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Patty Murray (D-WA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Al Franken (D-MN), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Udall (D-NM), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) are cosponsors of the legislation.








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