Marian Wright Edelman (born June 6, 1939) is an American activist for the rights of children. She is president and founder of the Children's Defense Fund.
Edelman was born the youngest of five children to Arthur Jerome Wright and Maggie Leola Brown in Bennettsville, South Carolina. Her father, a Baptist minister who instilled in her that Christianity obligates one to service, died when she was 14, urging in his last words, "Don't let anything get in the way of your education."
She attended Marlboro Training High School there, and went on to Spelman College and travelled the world on a Merrill scholarship and studied in the Soviet Union as a Lisle fellow. She became involved in the Civil Rights Movement, and after being arrested for her activism, she decided to become a lawyer and entered Yale Law School in 1963, joining the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in 1968.