Leveling the Playing Field for California's Children, an intergenerational conversation with women leaders


April 10, 2016

Last month, Children’s Defense Fund-California (CDF-CA) culminated Women’s History Month with a powerful event featuring Marian Wright Edelman, Senator Holly Mitchell, and other courageous leaders speaking about the importance of advocating for our youth.

More than 300 people attended the March 31 panel discussion – Leveling the Playing Field for California’s Children: An Intergeneration Conversation with Women Leaders – which was held at the California African Museum. Panelists included: Edelman, founder and president of Children’s Defense Fund; Laphonza Butler, president of SEIU Local 2015; Patti Giggans, executive director of Peace Over Violence; Dr. Melina Abdullah, professor at Cal State Los Angeles; and Aurea Montes-Rodriguez, executive-vice president of Community Coalition. The panel was moderated by Nike Irvine, vice president of programs for California Community Foundation.

Both Edelman and Mitchell said the most important thing adults can do to help level the playing field for young people is to vote.

“Our children need our voices,” Edelman said.

Other panelists said it is also important that youth know that their own voices matter and they can make a difference.

Abdullah said young people have extraordinary power, and they have been organizing and demonstrating that power across the country through demonstrations at their schools and in their communities.

“We are in the midst of a movement,” she said. “We coming.”

CDF-CA Executive Director Alex Johnson agreed.

“The time to level the playing field is not down the road … it is today!” he said.

The event concluded with a call to action by youth organizer Sarai McKenziel

“Silence is deadly; inaction is deadly,” she said. “Not taking action allows unjust things to continue to happen.”

Sarai encouraged the crowd to support CDF-CA in their efforts to improve the lives of youth in California and highlighted several ways individuals could help, including: