A native of Bennettsville, Marian Wright Edelman In the mid-1960s as a human rights activist began directing the Legal Defense and Education Fund for the Mississippi NAACP.
As the first African American woman admitted to the Mississippi bar Marian Wright Edelman was a formidable force for civil rights. In 1967 her efforts in behalf of poor people brought Senators Robert Kennedy and Joseph Clark to Mississippi to observe, first-hand, the extent of rural poverty. As a result, the federal government began distributing free food stamps.
In 1968 she established the Washington Research Project, forerunner to the Children's Defense Fund which she founded in 1973. Based in Washington, DC, the Children's Defense Fund is a powerful research and lobbying voice for children.