Oct. 13 2014

Twenty-Five Years Fighting Childhood Poverty

Tavis Smiley and Soledad O’Brien Join NCCP to Give Voice to the Voiceless

Twenty-five years ago, the National Center for Children in Poverty was created at the Mailman School to promote the economic security, health, and well being of America´s low-income families. On October 9, NCCP celebrated the occasion by shining a light on a shameful reality that, despite enormous effort, has only worsened in the intervening years: one in five children in America today live in poverty.

Author and talk show host Tavis Smiley was honored with a “Children’s Champion Award.” In remarks, Smiley said he could think of no calling more noble than to “give a voice to those who have no voice,” and make sure the “suffering in our society does not get rendered invisible.” Smiley, who has toured the country to speak about poverty and related problems, called for a new kind of leadership, saying “You can’t lead people if you don’t love people. And you can’t save people if you don’t serve people.”

Soledad O’Brien, a television anchor and correspondent for CNN and HBO, moderated a discussion with experts from the Russell Sage Foundation, the Urban Institute, and the National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families that touched on issues such as preschool education, welfare reform, and the Horatio Alger myth.

“This milestone event to celebrate 25 years of service in support of poor children and families in America is taking place at a pivotal time in our nation’s history,” said Renée Wilson-Simmons, director of NCCP.  “The focus on poverty and its alleviation has continued to increase, and this event will not only highlight past successes but also propose next steps in the road to equality of opportunity.”