The Atlanta City Council celebrates the pioneering women of Atlanta

Atlanta City Council
5 min readMar 5, 2024

As part of Women’s History Month, the Atlanta City Council highlights some of Atlanta’s historic women and their contributions:

Marian Wright Edelman: A Lifelong Champion for Children and Civil Rights

Marian Wright Edelman, a prominent civil rights activist, lawyer, and founder of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), has dedicated her life to advocating for the rights of children and marginalized communities. Edelman’s early experiences with racial injustice and inequality fueled her passion for social justice and shaped her lifelong commitment to fighting for equality and opportunity for all.

Growing up in the segregated South, Edelman witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of poverty, discrimination, and systemic injustice on children and families in her community. These experiences deeply influenced her worldview and instilled in her a sense of urgency to effect positive change. After graduating from Spelman College and Yale Law School, Edelman became the first African American woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar, where she began her career as a civil rights attorney.

Throughout the 1960s, Edelman worked tirelessly alongside civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy to combat racial segregation and discrimination in the South. Her courageous advocacy and unwavering commitment to justice earned her widespread recognition and respect within the civil rights movement.

In 1973, Edelman founded the Children’s Defense Fund, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring every child has a fair and equitable opportunity to thrive. Under her leadership, the CDF has become one of the nation’s leading advocates for children’s rights, championing policies and programs to address child poverty, improve access to healthcare and education, and combat systemic injustices that disproportionately impact children of color and low-income families.

One of Edelman’s most notable achievements is the passage of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in 1997, which provides low-cost health coverage to millions of uninsured children across the United States. Her tireless advocacy and grassroots mobilization efforts were instrumental in securing bipartisan support for this landmark legislation, which has helped to significantly reduce the rate of uninsured children nationwide.

In addition to her work with the CDF, Edelman has been a vocal advocate for criminal justice reform, voting rights, and gun violence prevention. She has received numerous awards and honors for her contributions to social justice and public service, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, awarded to her by President Bill Clinton in 2000.

Despite facing criticism and opposition throughout her career, Edelman remains steadfast in her commitment to creating a more just and equitable society for all. Her relentless pursuit of justice and unwavering dedication to the well-being of children have inspired countless individuals to join the fight for social change and continue her legacy of advocacy and activism.

Anne Cox Chambers: A Titan of Media and Philanthropy

Anne Cox Chambers, the matriarch of the Cox family empire, left an indelible mark on the worlds of media and philanthropy. Chambers became a formidable force wielding influence with grace and determination.

As the daughter of the founder of Cox Enterprises, James M. Cox, Chambers inherited a legacy deeply rooted in the media industry. Her father’s company expanded from a single newspaper to a sprawling media conglomerate, encompassing newspapers, television, radio stations, and more. Anne Cox Chambers played an instrumental role in guiding Cox Enterprises through decades of growth and diversification.

Chambers’ impact extended far beyond the boardroom. She was a trailblazer for women in business, breaking barriers and shattering glass ceilings along the way. At a time when female executives were a rarity, Chambers’ leadership and business acumen earned her widespread respect and admiration.

Beyond her achievements in the business world, Chambers was also a dedicated philanthropist in the city of Atlanta. She generously supported numerous causes, ranging from education and healthcare to the arts and environmental conservation. Her philanthropic efforts left an enduring legacy of compassion and generosity, touching the lives of countless individuals and communities.

Chambers’ commitment to excellence, integrity, and service serves as an inspiration. Her legacy reminds us that true success is not measured solely by wealth or power but by the positive impact we have on the world around us. Anne Cox Chambers’ legacy continues to illuminate the path for future generations of leaders and philanthropists.

Evelyn Greenblatt Howren: Trailblazer in Aviation and Service

Evelyn Greenblatt Howren was born in Atlanta and was a pioneering figure in American aviation history. Throughout her life, she shattered gender barriers and made significant contributions to the field of aviation, leaving behind a legacy of courage, determination, and service.

Inspired by the pioneering aviators of her time, she pursued her passion for aviation with unwavering determination. In the midst of World War II, Howren seized the opportunity to serve her country by joining the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program, becoming one of the first women to do so.

As a member of the WASP, Howren played a vital role in supporting the war effort. She flew military aircraft, towed targets for live anti-aircraft artillery practice, and transported cargo and personnel, all while demonstrating exceptional skill and courage in the face of adversity. Her contributions to the war effort were instrumental in paving the way for future generations of women aviators.

In addition to her service with the WASP, Howren made history as one of the first women air traffic controllers in the United States. Her groundbreaking work in this field helped to break down barriers and open doors for women in aviation and beyond.

She was instrumental in organizing the first all-woman squadron of the Civil Air Patrol, a volunteer organization that provides emergency services and promotes aerospace education. Her leadership and commitment to excellence inspired countless others to pursue their dreams and make a difference in their communities.

Despite facing discrimination and adversity throughout her career, Howren remained steadfast in her pursuit of equality and opportunity for all. Her courage, resilience, and pioneering spirit continue to inspire generations of aviators and trailblazers around the world.