After 40 years of supporting youth, the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) honored president and founder Marian Wright Edelman at an anniversary gala for her work and dedication to the organization.

Nearly 2,000 attended the Sept. 30 event, held at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C., to honor and pay tribute to 40 years of child advocacy.

“We have worked hard over the last forty years to help build a national house, where every child is healthy, safe and educated, room by room,” Edelman said in a statement. She founded the organization in 1973.

Geoffrey Canada, president and CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone, Inc., and CDF Beat the Odds scholarship program alumna Sheehan Whelan hosted the four-hour ceremony. One of the highlights of the event was a special appearance by long time CDF supporter Hillary R. Clinton.

The gala included a performance by 12-year-old Malik Kofi, who played the cello along with his mentor and cellist Udi Bar-David, as well a tap performance by the Manzari Brothers and the Washington Performing Arts Society Children of the Gospel Choir.

“There are tens of thousands of young servant leaders who have enriched CDF’s work over the years and are serving and enriching children and the nation across many sectors at the policy and community levels,” organization spokesman Raymonde Charles told the AFRO.

She said the CDF has worked for the past 40 years to create a level playing field for all children.

“The Children’s Defense Fund’s work has also helped millions of children escape poverty and receive needed heath care, nutrition, head start and early head start, child care, education, special education, family support services, adoption assistance, and ensure protections for children in child welfare and juvenile justice systems, and protection from gun violence,” Charles said.

Children’s Defense Fund progams have touched the lives of more than 125,000 children and young adults and helped more than 800 low-income high school students go to college to realize their dreams.

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AFRO photos of this event

Blair Adams

AFRO Staff Writer