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"Bring the Children Home: The Will to End Homelessness" Marion Wright Edelman to Lead a Martin Luther King Day Discussion

"A lot of people are waiting for Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi to come back — but they are gone. We are it. It is up to us."

— Marian Wright Edelman

January 7, 2004 — Every year, between 900,000 and 1.4 million American children experience homelessness. Children make up 40 percent of the nation's homeless population and are the fastest growing homeless demographic. Martin Luther King once said, "We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity." Tackling the injustices in our democratic society that allow so many children to go homeless in the United States is an extension of King's legacy.

On January 19, Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund, will lead a discussion entitled "Bring the Children Home: The Will to End Homelessness." This Martin Luther King Day Event will take place in New Hampshire just 9 days prior to the New Hampshire Presidential primaries, thus the issue of how we find the will to end homelessness takes on even greater significance.

The event will take place from 5:30 pm-8:30 pm, at the Center of New Hampshire Holiday Inn, and is co-sponsored by the Global Citizens Circle, Give Us Your Poor: Homelessness and the United States, and the UMass Boston's Center for Social Policy. Marian Wright Edelman is a pre-eminent authority on children's issues and has been an advocate for disadvantaged Americans for her entire professional career. Under her leadership, the Children's Defense Fund has become the nation's strongest voice for children and families.

Edelman will engage 80 concerned citizens, including members of the business, academic, social service, and homeless communities, in a highly interactive conversation on the facts, the figures, the questions, and the solutions to this unacceptable problem of homeless children. To set the stage for the discussion, a short video trailer of a documentary, "Give Us Your Poor: Homelessness and the United States," will be shown, which poignantly depicts young people talking about their personal experiences of homelessness.

Give Us Your Poor: Homelessness and the United States is a national project aimed at creating a revolution in public awareness about homelessness in order to stimulate solutions. The Center for Social Policy at the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston is a research and technical assistance center focusing on poverty and is home to the Give Us Your Poor project.

Global Citizens Circle, a 30-year old, educational non-profit, has as its mission to foster constructive change in our global community by assembling diverse groups of concerned individuals - from world leaders to local activists - for challenging discussions which will stimulate meaningful and enduring resolution to our world's pressing concerns. The Circle is not new to the issues involving children or homelessness, as has it hosted in the past the discussion, "Defending Our Children", with Marian Wright Edelman, as well as a discussion on homelessness with the late homeless activist, Mitch Snyder, and actor, Martin Sheen.

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  • Families and children now comprise at least 40% of the nation's homeless population
  • Upwards of 3.5 million Americans experience homelessness each year, of those upwards of 1.4 million are children
  • 50% of homeless children are 0-6 years of age
  • Over 75% of homeless women have experience domestic violence
  • Since the early 1980s in the U.S. an increase in extreme poverty, a lack of affordable housing, and the growth in female-headed families have changed the face of homelessness

Web Sources on Homelessness & Children:

The Center for Social Policy, UMass Boston

The Children's Defense Fund

The Horizons Initiative

The National Alliance to End Homelessness

The National Association for the Education of Homeless Children & Youth

The National Center on Family Homelessness

The National Coalition for the Homeless

The New Hampshire Coalition to End Homelessness

The One Family Campaign (Massachusetts)

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