Children's Defense Fund Workshop

For 5 days this past July, Dr. Cheryl B. Anderson, Professor of Old Testament, attended a workshop offered by the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) on the Alex Haley Farm, near Knoxville, Tennessee.  The CDF grew out of the Civil Rights Movement under the leadership of Marian Wright Edelman. The first Black woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar, Mrs. Edelman directed the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund office in Jackson, Miss.; worked with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as counsel for his Poor People's Campaign; and dedicated her early career to defending the civil liberties of people struggling to overcome poverty and discrimination. She founded the CDF in 1973. From its inception, the CDF has challenged the United States to raise its standards by improving policies and programs for children. CDF has become known for careful research on children’s survival, protection and development in all racial and income groups and for independent analyses of how federal and state policies affect children, their families and their communities. For decades, they have partnered with numerous organizations and worked with policy makers to build bipartisan support to enact laws that have helped millions of children fulfill their potential and escape poverty because they received the health care, child care, nurturing, proper nutrition and education they deserve.  . [Shane – insert the “to read more link” here]

The gun violence workshop Dr. Anderson attended was sponsored by the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute [and Conference] for Child Advocacy Ministry (SDPC) which is affiliated with the CDF. She was interested in attending because she thought that the advocacy skills she might learn there would help with her work on HIV/AIDS.  The mission of Conference is to nurture, sustain, and mobilize African American faith communities in collaboration with civic, corporate, and philanthropic leaders to address critical needs of human and social justice within local, national, and global communities. SDPC seeks to strengthen the individual and collective capacity of thought leaders and activists in the church, academy, and community through education, advocacy, and activism.

While she did gain some new skills, she acknowledges that she received so much more than that.  For example, in the United States, a child or teen dies or is injured by gun violence every 30 minutes.  The workshop started on a Monday, and we had learned of the “not guilty” verdict in the Zimmerman case only 2 days earlier.  The conference attendees received a relevant and immediate lesson about gun violence right before their eyes. Everyone was stunned, so it was the best place one could have been that week.  Dr. Anderson was able to learn from powerful teachers and preachers, and everyone was able to cry—but they were also uplifted and inspired to continue on in the struggle for justice.  Dr. Anderson thinks the most touching feature was to see young people line up to take pictures with icons from the Civil rights era such as Rev. James Lawson[1], Dr. Marion Wright Edelman, and Rev. Otis Moss, Jr.[2] To see adults, young adults, and youth learning together ALSO gave her hope for our collective futures.

This type of advocacy workshop is offered every year, and Dr. Anderson would highly recommend that Garrett-Evangelical Students consider attending.  It is a powerful way to receive spiritual sustenance and guidance for the journey ahead.

The 2014, the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference (SDPC) will be held in Dallas, Texas from February 17 through 20, 2014 at the Fairmont Hotel and Friendship West Baptist Church.  For more information PLEASE visit: or

Rev. James Lawson is a retired UMC minister and is considered the Founder of the Non-Violent Christian Movement. In 1974 he was appointed pastor of Holman United Methodist Church where he served as pastor for 25 years before retiring in 1999. Throughout his career and into retirement, he has remained active in various human rights advocacy campaigns, including immigrant rights and opposition to war and militarism. In recent years he has been a distinguished visiting professor at Vanderbilt University.

Theologian, pastor, and civic leader the Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, Jr., is one of America’s most influential religious leaders. He is pastor emeritus at Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio. In 2009, President Barack Obama named him to serve on a newly established 25-member White House Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. He also serves on the board of trustees at Morehouse College, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1956.

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