The legacy of African-American leadership in social welfare history is only recently finding space in social work literature. The small number of professional journals in social work that publish historical articles, along with institutionalized resistance to the acknowledgement of African-Americans contributions to the development of the profession, have contributed to this dearth of scholarship. The results have been that many professionals are disinclined to perceive of African-Americans as resourceful, skilled and powerful. Instead, the theme of pathology permeates social work literature, teaching, and ultimately social work practice. The social work profession emphasizes the importance of diversity, yet fails to acknowledge the National Urban League (NUL) as a major social welfare movement comparable in influence and impact to the Charity Organization Society and the settlement house movements. We embrace the importance of social justice and empowerment, while failing to acknowledge the pioneering social activism of individuals like Ida B. Well-Barnett as an integrated part of social work/welfare history.

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