by Jeremy Leaming
Peter B. Edelman, a longtime champion of fighting poverty in American, was honored this week with a humanitarian award from the D.C. Commission on Human Rights and the D.C. Office of Human Rights.
The D.C. human rights offices presented Edelman with its annual Cornelius R. “Neil” Alexander Humanitarian Award on Dec. 8. Edelman (pictured), the newly elected ACS Board Chair, is a professor at Georgetown Law. Edelman’s distinguished career has included work for Senator Robert F. Kennedy, who was an eloquent and forceful tribune of the nation’s oppressed, especially African and Native Americans or the “disaffected.”
In a press statement regarding its Award, the D.C. Office of Human Rights says Edelman’s “name is near the top of any list of people who have worked to make poverty and economic justice front-burner issues in the United States. He has spent much of the last four decades working to make the nation focus on poverty and find solutions that would make a difference, including being at the forefront of concerted efforts to make the welfare system more responsible, productive, and accountable, attempting to do so without making it harsh or inhumane.”
The statement also notes “Edelman has pushed for greater access to civic legal representation for low-income people and remains a leading advocate for ensuring that young lawyers commit to significant pro-bono work.”
Earlier this year, Edelman participated in a panel discussion hosted by ACS and the Center for American Progress on the nation’s deteriorating support of legal services the low-income Americans. Edelman said more must be done to “make the courts less impenetrable for people who struggle to use them without legal representation.” Video of that panel discussion is available here.
Despite efforts by an array of public interest groups to strengthen legal aid services for the poor, Congress last month agreed to draconian cuts to the Legal Services Corporation, the country’s largest provider of civil legal help to the poor.