African Americans, social work, community development, advocacy, social welfare


The frequent outpour of civil unrest in the Black community in response to instances of social injustice is a manifestation of outrage and exhaustion with systems that perpetuate socioeconomic disparities and human rights violations in this community. Lessons learned from historical practices of social work in the Black community may enhance the potential of contemporary social workers to shepherd this social consciousness into sustained social change. Toward this goal, this paper will synthesize and juxtapose the parallel paths taken by early Black social workers and their majority counterparts. This paper will also identify strategies for integrating the legacy of early Black social workers into contemporary social work education and practice.

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