Milstein East Conference Room Wall – Left Panel

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Marian Wright Edelman  (born June 6, 1939)

“Never work just for money or for power.  They won’t save your soul or build a decent family or help you sleep at night.”

Photo of Marian Wright Edelman from the Children's Defense Fund


Marian Wright Edelman has devoted her career to activism for services to improve the lives of the most disadvantaged American children and families, with a methodology that is best expressed in her own words, “If you don’t like the way the world is, you have an obligation to change it. Just do it one step at a time.”  A 1987 Time Magazine article called her “one of Washington’s most unusual lobbyists” whose “effectiveness depends as much on her adroit use of statistics as on moral persuasion”.  In 1973, Edelman founded and became the principal spokesperson for the Children’s Defense Fund.

Edelman later wrote The Measure of Our Success, A Letter to My Children and Yours, published in 1992, in which she included “Twenty-five Lessons for Life”. This quotation serves as the title for the fourth Lesson, which begins with, “We are the richest nation on earth, yet our incarceration, drug addiction, and child poverty rates are among the highest in the industrialized world.”

Americans Who Tell the Truth: Marian Wright Edelman, (last visited March 21, 2012).

N. Traver, They Cannot Fend for Themselves, Time, March 23, 1987 at 27.
Marian Wright Edelman, The Measure of our Success, A Letter to My Children and Yours 35 (1992).



St. Thomas Aquinas  (1225 – March 7, 1274)

“Human law has the nature of law in so far as it partakes of right reason; and it is clear that, in this respect, it is derived from the eternal law.  But in so far as it deviates from reason, it is called an unjust law, and has the nature, not of law but of violence.”

Illuminated initial containing a portrait of Thomas Aquinas from MS Typ 443, Houghton Library, Harvard University


Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225–1274), one of the leading theologians of the High Middle Ages, was born in Italy as the younger son of a wealthy family. Like many younger sons before him, he was expected to make a career in the church, and was sent at the age of five to be taught at a Benedictine monastery. His family expected that he would eventually join and perhaps become abbot of the monastery.  Instead, Aquinas was attracted to the mendicant Dominican Order and fled to join them.  Although his family initially protested, going so far as to kidnap him back from the order, he remained committed and eventually became a Dominican friar.   Aquinas devoted his life to both teaching and learning, writing broadly on theology and philosophy and serving as a member of the faculty of the University of Paris.  In his teaching and writing, Aquinas reflected and synthesized the ebb and flow of ideas across medieval Europe.  The Summa Theologica is one of his masterworks; in it, he attempted to systematically address all of Christian theology as a unified whole.  The Summa is divided into three parts dealing with the 1) nature of God and creation, 2) human reason, acts and morality, including a section on the law, and 3) the life and incarnation of Christ.  This quote, from part 2 of the Summa, is part of a section in which Aquinas addressed the question of whether human law, created through human reason, ultimately originated in natural law. Although unfinished at the time of his death in 1274, the Summa was hugely influential on later philosophy, theology and literature


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