The Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence at Case Western Reserve University has awarded the 2017 Inamori Ethics Prize to civil rights attorney and Children's Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman.
Funded by the Inamori Foundation, the award honors an individual for significant and lasting contributions to ethical leadership on the global stage. Edelman grew up in South Carolina, graduated from Spelman College and Yale Law School, and, as the first African-American woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar, directed the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund office in Jackson. She moved to Washington, D.C., in 1968 to serve as counsel for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Poor People's Campaign and later founded the Washington Research Project, a public interest law firm and the parent body of CDF, which she launched in 1973. CDF has become the nation's leading advocacy organization for children and families, championing policies and programs to lift children from poverty, protect them from abuse and neglect, and ensure their access to health care and quality education.
In 2000, Edelman received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award, and the Robert F. Kennedy Lifetime Achievement Award for her writings. Edelman also served for two years as director of the Harvard Center for Law and Education, and she currently serves on the boards of the Robin Hood Foundation and the Association to Benefit Children.
Awarded since 2008, the Inamori Ethics Prize carries with it a monetary award intended to support the recipient's ongoing work. At the awards ceremony held in September, Established by Kyocera founder Kazuo Inamori, the foundation also awards the Kyoto Prize, which recognizes outstanding contributions to the progress of science, technology, the advancement of civilization, and enrichment and elevation of the human spirit.
"Marian Wright Edelman is a hugely inspirational change agent who has been indefatigable and remarkably effective in her efforts to improve lives, especially the lives of children," said Inamori Center director Shannon French, the Inamori Professor in Ethics at CWRU.