Marian Wright Edelman to Present Commencement Address

For more information, contact Barb Steadman - 843.857.4199

Marian Wright EdelmanHARTSVILLE, S.C. – Feb. 2, 2011 – Marian Wright Edelman, president and founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, will present the Coker College spring commencement address on Saturday, May 14, President Robert Wyatt announced today.

"We are honored that President Edelman has accepted our invitation,” Wyatt said.

“A tireless champion of young people, Marian has long understood, and helped our nation understand, that America’s future rests on the success of all of our children. In addition, a product of one of the finest liberal arts colleges in America, she built her career on the twin pillars of caring and excellence and in the process set an example for the millennial generation that is second to none," he said.

Edelman is a graduate of Spelman College and Yale Law School. She began her career in the mid-60s when, as the first black woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar, she directed the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund office in Jackson, Miss.  In l968, she moved to Washington, D.C., as counsel for the Poor People's Campaign that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. began organizing before his death.  She founded the Washington Research Project, a public interest law firm and the parent body of the Children's Defense Fund.  For two years she served as the Director of the Center for Law and Education at Harvard University and in l973 began the Children’s Defense Fund.

Edelman served on the Board of Trustees of Spelman College, which she chaired from 1976 to 1987, and was the first woman elected by alumni as a member of the Yale University Corporation on which she served from 1971 to 1977. She has received more than a hundred honorary degrees and many awards including the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Prize, the Heinz Award and a MacArthur Foundation Prize Fellowship. In 2000, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award, and the Robert F. Kennedy Lifetime Achievement Award for her writings which include:  “Families in Peril: An Agenda for Social Change;” “The Measure of Our Success: A Letter to My Children and Yours;” “Guide My Feet: Meditations and Prayers on Loving and Working for Children;” “Stand for Children;” “Lanterns: A Memoir of Mentors;” “Hold My Hand:  Prayers for Building a Movement to Leave No Child Behind;” “I'm Your Child, God:  Prayers for Our Children;” “I Can Make a Difference: A Treasury to Inspire Our Children;” and “The Sea Is So Wide and My Boat Is So Small: Charting a Course for the Next Generation.”

Edelman is a board member of the Robin Hood Foundation, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities and the Association to Benefit Children, and is a member of the Selection Committee of the Profiles in Courage Award of the John F. Kennedy Library, the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.


Coker College readies undergraduates for personal and professional success through a distinctive four-year program that emphasizes a practical application of the liberal arts as well as hands-on and discussion-based learning within and beyond the classroom. Coker is ranked among the “Best Colleges” in the South by U.S. News & World Report as well as The Princeton Review. Located in Hartsville, S.C., Coker is within two hours of the cultural, financial and recreational resources of Charlotte, Columbia, Charleston and Myrtle Beach.

Apply Online Now




Visit Coker College


Campus Visit

Open House


For Open House information or to visit the campus of your choice please contact Elaine Hodges (843) 857-4194 or

Request More Information



Contact Information

Office of Admissions (DAY)
Phone: 843.383.8050
Phone (Toll Free): 1.800.950.1908
Fax: 843.383.8056

Office of Admissions (Adult Degree Program)
Elaine Hodges |
Phone: 843.383.8030

Admissions Staff

Office of Financial Aid
Phone: 843.383.8055
Phone (Toll Free): 1.800.950.1908
Fax: 843.383.8159

Financial Aid Staff

Coker College
300 East College Ave.
Hartsville, SC 29550