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Detroit Walk to Freedom: 60 Years Later

Edith Lee Payne headshotEdith has been an activist for social justice in areas of education, housing, public safety, police and community relations, and civil rights spanning four decades. In 2008, Edith learned she had a permanent place in history after discovering that three photographs taken of her at the August 28, 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom are among the holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration.

Most notably, one of the images appears on the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial brochure, in the Records of Rights permanent exhibit in the David M. Rubenstein Gallery of the National Archives Museum in Washington, D.C., and in the recently opened Oprah Winfrey Gallery in the National Museum of African American History and Culture along with the pennant Edith held in the historic photo.

Edith brings history to life when speaking to audiences of all ages on her personal recollections, observations, and interpretations of growing up during the Civil Rights Movement to the present. As the poster child for the Civil Rights Movement, Edith has made a variety of local, national, and international appearances. Edith is among over 150 men and women who championed racial and social injustices throughout the United States in the Comcast/NBCUniversal™ and the Equal Justice Initiative collaboration, Voices of the Civil Rights Movement, to honor the 50th Anniversary of the August 28, 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Edith is Executive Director and Co-founder of the Lee-Lovett Foundation (LLF); a non-profit organization that educates, promotes, and encourages organ and tissue donation targeting potential donors in the African American community where donors are most needed. The LLF was founded in memory of her eldest son, Antoine Christopher Lee, and co-founded with the late James Lovett Jr., the recipient of Antoine’s heart.  Her advocacy for organ and tissue donation has been recognized globally. Her professional career also includes freelance consulting in marketing, political and public affairs, and as a political strategist.

Edith is a native of and currently resides in Detroit, Michigan. She received her education through the Detroit Public Schools and earned a B.P.A. in Public Affairs from Wayne State University.  Edith has been an active member of Carter Metropolitan CME Church of the Third Episcopal District of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church for over 50 years.  She has one adult son, eight grandchildren and one great-grandson.

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