Based on Marian Wright Edelman's Harvard lectures on W. E. B. Du Bois, Families in Peril: An Agenda for Social Change examines the effects of poverty on American families in the 1980s. As the president of the Children's Defense Fund, Edelman focuses on the plight of children, especially African Americans. She also discusses how whites, like blacks, suffer from illegitimacy, child abuse, unemployment, and crime. Her proposed solutions to poverty-related problems emphasize increased government intervention and include developing an understanding of the facts related to the issues, focusing on manageable portions of problems, and breaking the generational cycle of poverty.