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Lanterns: A Memoir of Mentors [Kindle Edition]

Marian Wright Edelman
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

I am grateful beyond words for the example of the lanterns shared in this memoir whose lives I hope will illuminate my children's, your children's, and the paths of countless others coming behind.--Marian Wright Edelman, from the Preface

Marian Wright Edelman, "the most influential children's advocate in the country" (The Washington Post), shares stories from her life at the center of this century's most dramatic civil rights struggles. She pays tribute to the extraordinary personal mentors who helped light her way: Martin Luther King, Jr., Robert F. Kennedy, Fannie Lou Hamer, William Sloane Coffin, Ella Baker, Mae Bertha Carter, and many others.

She celebrates the lives of the great Black women of Bennettsville, South Carolina-Miz Tee, Miz Lucy, Miz Kate-who along with her parents formed a formidable and loving network of community support for the young Marian Wright as a Black girl growing up in the segregated South. We follow the author to Spelman College in the late 1950s, when the school was a hotbed of civil rights activism, and where, through excerpts from her honest and passionate college journal, we witness a national leader in the making and meet the people who inspired and empowered her, including Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, Howard Zinn, and Charles E. Merrill, Jr.

Lanterns takes us to Mississippi in the 1960s, where Edelman was the first and only Black woman lawyer. Her account of those years is a riveting first-hand addition to the literature of civil rights: "The only person I recognized in the menacing crowd as I walked towards the front courthouse steps was [a] veteran New York Times reporter. He neither acknowledged me nor met my eyes. I knew then what it was like to be a poor Black person in Mississippi: alone." And we follow Edelman as she leads Bobby Kennedy on his fateful trip to see Mississippi poverty and hunger for himself, a powerful personal experience for the young RFK that helped awaken a nation's conscience to child hunger and poverty.

Lanterns is illustrated with thirty of the author's personal photographs and includes "A Parent's Pledge" and "Twenty-five More Lessons for Life," an inspiration to all of us-parents, grandparents, teachers, religious and civic leaders-to guide, protect, and love our children every day so that they will become, in Marian Wright Edelman's moving vision, the healing agents for national transformation.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Driven by the knowledge that she never for a moment lacked a purpose worth fighting, living and dying for, Edelman (The Measure of Our Success; Guide My Feet) recounts how she relied on the strength of her forebears and the hunger of those in need to push her through the halls of Spelman College and then Yale University School of Law. Here, she pays homage to those who have lit her path. As the head of the Children's Defense Fund, Edelman recognizes the importance of mentors in the lives of children. She recalls those who encouraged her by word or example to think and act outside of the low expectations many have for black girls and women. She cites her parents as her first guides and credits her father for instilling in her a voracious appetite for knowledge. Other mentors include "unlettered" men and women in the segregated, close-knit community of Bennettsville, N.C., where she grew up. Once she entered the halls of academia, she met others: Dr. Benjamin Mays, former president of Morehouse College; historian Howard Zinn, a professor at Spelman College; and Charles Merrill, who created a fellowship that enabled her to travel to Europe. They helped shape her views by encouraging her to think "outside the box." Other lanterns on her path include Bob Moses, Mae Bertha Carter and Unita Blackwell, the civil rights activists with whom Edelman worked as the first black woman attorney in Mississippi. Thoughtfully written, this book is a testament to family, community and spiritual values. (Oct.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

As president of the Children's Defense Fund, Edelman fights tirelessly for the rights of the young. In this memoir, she pays tribute to those who helped shape her life, and shows how crucial their influences were. They include her parents, teachers, and civil rights activists like Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Baker, and Martin Luther King.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 6501 KB
  • Print Length: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (May 1, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00B6OV8QY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #769,386 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marian Wright Edelman's " Lanterns" Sheds Light October 9, 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
The unexpected return of her long lost college diary set Marian Wright Edelman on a quest to recall the mentors who helped her grow from a girl of the segregated south to the first Black woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar. If this book were to be viewed only as a further contribution to the history of the Civil Rights movement it would be a valued addition to a growing corpus. Offering an intimate glimpse of the young participants in that struggle for justice she further provides a poignant testament to the critically important role of the not so young who inspired it. Introducing both the celebrated and the obscure Edelman permits a rare insight into the formation of character and commitment. Long the best friend America's children have ever had, in this book, Edelman serves an older clintele who are likely to find in it a powerful pull to accompany the young on the journey to adulthood. In recalling childhood teachers as well as the dominant figures of the 1960s Edelman brings wisdom, insight and strong spirituality to a much needed reflection on intergenerational sharing.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lessons Learned April 6, 2003
Format:Hardcover
Marian Wright Edelman, in pleasing prose, shares the experiences she had growing up surrounded by a community of mentors, both formal and informal. Edleman talks about the importance of parents, community elders as co-parents and mentors, and the powerful role teachers can play in the development of character. Her college years were greatly influenced by the civil rights leaders of the time, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and Robert Kennedy among others. Edelman shares lessons learned from influential faculty and family friends and helps readers understand what it is like to be a part of something larger than themselves.
This book, which focuses on the powerful influence that mentors can have on children and young adults, finishes with Edelman's "Parent's Pledge" and "Twenty-Five More Lessons for Life". She shares the wisdom gained from her parents and elders as well as her many years of experience working with children. Pearls such as "Always remember you are God's child. No man or woman can look down on you and you cannot look down on any man or woman or child" and "Keep your word and your commitments" provide valuable advice for those seeking a strong moral center. This book is a recommended read for anyone interested in life lessons learned from a woman of faith whose experiences have been enriched by her interactions with the mentors in her life.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening! December 20, 2001
Format:Paperback
For centuries sailors have relied on the constellations of heavenly lanterns to guide their way. In crisp, vivid prose, Marian Wright Edelman tells us about the heroes who provided beacons of hope and inspiration, helping her find her way through the many moral dillemas of life and stay on course.
What is interesting is the sheer variety of backgrounds Dr. Edelman's heroes have. Nevertheless, they all share the author's passion for human rights and social justice. As a bonus, Dr. Edelman gives a brief history of the civil rights era, a nice complement to two other fine books on that fascinating topic, Taylor Branch's "Parting the Waters" and David Halberstam's "The Children."
This book is much more a memoir. It is a call of action and an inspiration for all of us to act for the common good, to serve the community. It is up to the current generations to act as a positive role model for the next, much as Dr. Edelman's mentors did for her.
Mentors, lanterns, are important at all times, during the economic boom of the late 1990s, when this book was written, as well as in the troubled initial years of the 21st century. There are already too many ships out there lacking a sailor to read the stars. And some ships don't even have a rudder.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars February 21, 2015
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
good condition, no complaints
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More About the Author

Marian Wright Edelman is the founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund. She is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller The Measure of Our Success: A Letter to My Children and Yours. She is the winner of many awards for her work, including a MacArthur Fellowship, the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Award, a Heinz Award, and a Niebuhr Award. In 2000, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Robert F. Kennedy Lifetime Achievement Award for her writings. Edelman is a graduate of Spelman College and Yale Law School. She and her husband live in Washington, D.C., and have three children and four grandchildren.

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