Celebrating Black Change Agents

For Black History Month 2024, the School of Social Work is highlighting four inspiring Black changemakers:

Lester Blackwell Granger

  • First Black president of the National Conference for Social Work in 1952
  • Advocated for the desegregation of schools and played a role in the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court case
  • As executive director of the National Urban League from 1941 to 1961, promoted equal opportunities for Black people in employment, housing, education, and other areas
  • As a social worker, worked with Black youth in New Jersey's vocational school system

Granger described Black Americans' goals as "the right to work, the right to vote, the right to physical safety, and the right to dignity and self-respect."

Mildred "Mit" Joyner

  • Held various position at West Chester University School of Social Work for 25+ years, establishing the first MSW program in Pennsylvania
  • Profound scholar and leader volunteering her time on boards, creating scholarships, serving as a mentor, and fighting for social and economic justice
  • Served as United States Representative on the board of the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW)
  • Served as president of the National Association of Social Workers from July 2020 to June 2023

"My advice to all members is to please commit to reading the code of ethics yearly. Some social workers seem to forget the purpose of social work, often placing their personal values over professional values." -- Mildred "Mit" Joyner

    Dorothy Height

    • Although admitted to Barnard College, was not allowed to attend because the school did not admit African Americans. Went on to graduate from New York University and completed postgraduate work at Columbia University.
    • Best known for leadership positions in the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) and the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW)
    • Dubbed "the godmother of the civil rights movement," having founded activist group Wednesdays in Mississippi and helping to organize the March on Washington
    • Awarded the Citizens Medal Award from President Ronald Reagan in 1989 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004.

    "We have to improve life, not just for those who have the most skills and those who know how to manipulate the system, but also for those who often have so much to give but never get the opportunity." -- Dorothy Height

    Whitney M. Young Jr.

    • First Dean of Social Work at Clark Atlanta University
    • One of the organizers of the March on Washington
    • Held leadership positions as president of the National Conference on Social Welfare, executive director of National Urban League, and president of the National Association of Social Workers
    • Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor

    "Every man is our brother, and every man's burden is our own. Where poverty exists, all our poorer. Where hate flourishes, all are corrupted. Where injustice reigns, all are unequal." -- Whitney M. Young Jr.

    Lester Blackwell Granger
    Mildred "Mit" Joyner
    Dorothy Height
    Whitney M. Young Jr.