In 1973, Marian Wright Edelman, founded the Children's Defense Fund to become a voice for children and families living in poverty. She brought her message to Mississippi again Wednesday.
Edelman says everyone must work together so more children can have a chance at the American dream.
She has received the Robert F. Kennedy Lifetime Achievement award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, written a number one best-selling book, but Edelman says she's still not satisfied.
"It's time for every adult to take responsibility for children and Mississippi's children are crying out for help," said Edelman.
Edelman said she wants to see parents, community and church leaders, and teachers join with political leaders to end poverty now. And she believes the first step is closer than you might think.
"We've got to get health care for every child in 2009, and I just hope everybody will pick up their phones and tell that to their Congress people and their senators," she said. "Let's begin to break the cycle before children come onto the earth with four strikes against them."
Edelman said it starts with education.
"The fact our states are spending on average three times more per prisoner than pupil in Mississippi, it's about one point eight percent, can you think of a dumber investment policy?" Edelman asked.
And in her latest book, she offers encouragement to parents struggling to do right by their children.
"They just got to know there's a lot of people out here fighting to help them make it," Edelman said. "And we need to empower parents. But I've seen parents who are single, who didn't have anything , produce most extraordinary children."
Edelman said she isn't giving up on her goal of getting rid of poverty, and she doesn't expect state or national leaders to give up either.