Social Work celebrates Black History Month - 2022

In February, Black History Month, we honor Black leaders who have changed the societal landscape and helped empower social change in their communities. We encourage the Warrior community to support our social work principles of life-long learning, anti-racist practice, advocacy and inclusion through engaged participation in Black History Month events, discussions, and community learning experiences.


  • Explore one of the many Black History Month events being held across campus and Midtown Detroit honoring Black History Month (see below)
  • Connect with us on social media (FacebookInstagramLinkedInTwitter) via:
    • Black Social Work Pioneers campaign: Throughout February, we will be spotlighting Black social work pioneers who forged new paths advocating for social justice in their communities. Learn more about these individuals below and join the discussion!
    • Social Work Warriors Visit The Wright Museum campaign: Throughout the month we will be spotlighting the exhibits of The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. Take a moment, learn something new and connect with your fellow Warriors before your visit to the museum! 

Black Social Work Pioneers

Thyra Edwards


Thyra J. Edwards (1897–1953)

Born in 1897, the granddaughter of a runaway slave, Thyra J. Edwards was a lifelong social worker. She began her social work career in Chicago and went on to become the executive director of the Congress of American Women working to establish the first childcare program in Rome to assist with Jewish Holocaust survivors after WWII. Edwards focused her advocacy efforts on blacks throughout the world and focused on disadvantaged and at-risk people of all races, nationalities and ethnicities. She worked throughout the world as a lecturer, women’s rights advocate, labor organizer and journalist.

Lester Granger


Lester Blackwell Granger (1897–1976)

Born in Newport News in 1897, Lester Blackwell Granger worked throughout his career connecting social work and civil rights agendas with the goal of equal opportunity and justice for all people of color, with a particular focus on the condition of African Americans in the U.S. In 1952, he became the first Black man to serve as president of the National Conference of Social Work and lead the integration of white unions and the establishment of unions among Black workers. After WWII, he served as a special consultant to the Navy in support of efforts to desegregate the military, which earned him the Navy’s Distinguished Civilian Service Award and the Presidential Medal for Merit. Granger also served as the president of the National Urban League for two decades.

George Haynes


George Edmund Haynes (1880–1960)

George Edmond Haynes was the first Black individual to graduate from the New York School of Philanthropy and went on to become the co-founder and first executive director of the National Urban League. Haynes was involved in matters of racial conflict in employment, housing, and recreation as the Special Assistant to the Secretary of Labor. This position made him one of the two highest-ranking Black federal employees. Born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas in 1880, Haynes also worked to establish of the first social work training center for black graduate students at Fisk, eventually directing the center from 1910 – 1918.

Dorothy Height


Dorothy Height (1912 – 2010)

Dorothy Height was a social worker and civil rights activist who was known as the “Godmother of the Civil Rights Movement”. Born in 1912 in Richmond, Virginia, Height earned a bachelor’s of science in education, a master’s in educational psychology from New York University and completed additional postgraduate work at Columbia University and the New York School of Social Work. Height was among a group of key advocates who fought for equal voting rights, employment opportunities, public accommodations and school desegregation. Height first started her social work career in Harlem, New York and went on to become the leader of the Harlem Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA). In 1957, Height became the fourth president of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) working to support voter registration in the South. 


February 8: Doing Evaluation in Service of Racial Equity, Debunking Myths
12 – 1 pm EST on Zoom

The Center for Social Work Research invites SSW faculty, postdoctoral fellows and PhD students to join them for the next installment of the Virtual Research Conversation series, Doing Evaluation in Service of Racial Equity: Debunking Myths. Assistant Professor Megan Hicks, PhD and Center for Social Work Research Associate Director Neva Nahan will use the first of three practice guides developed by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Community Science, an internationally recognized evaluation group, to guide a discussion on myths of racial equity in evaluation. This will be an interactive session where participants will have an opportunity to share their strategies for overcoming these myths. Grab your lunch and join us! Zoom Link; Meeting ID: 959 0209 5905; Passcode: 856491

February 25: Anti-Racism & Sustainable Coalition-Building
12 – 2 pm EST on Zoom
RSVP via email with Mariel Krupansky at

Funded by the OVPR Arts and Humanities Research Support Grant, Dr. Adrienne Jankens and the Antiracist Language and Literacy Practices Working Group are pleased to host Dr. Natasha Jones (Michigan State University) for a workshop on coalition-building. Following a presentation by Dr. Jones, we will facilitate Q&A followed by small group brainstorming sessions.

February 25: Elevate Their Voices: Social Work in Black Liberation
4 – 6 pm EST on Zoom

The Wayne State University School of Social Work Association of Black Social Workers (ABSW) presents their annual spotlight event, Elevate Their Voices, which will host a presentation and conversation on the role of Social Work in Black Liberation. The Social Work education and profession’s primary mission emphasizes social justice and social change for the enhancement and advancement of all people, with special attention to those who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty. By centering this conversation on Black Liberation, we will engage in consciousness-raising for the purpose of empowerment. This is critical to the advancement of the quality of life for all communities and paves the way for all to live free—for in the words of Civil Rights Activist Fannie Lou Hamer (1971), “nobody’s free until everybody’s free”.

Main topics will include the decolonization of Social Work; an analysis of social, political, and economic structures and their impact on the lives of the oppressed; and recommendations for prioritizing anti-racism and belonging in Social Work Practice. As the ABSW strives to learn how to promote social justice, activism, and culturally humble approaches within our practices in our communities, we look forward to having this necessary and transformative conversation on how we can empower and liberate those who are vulnerable and oppressed through our advocacy, social service, and research.

February 25: "Fairview" by Jackie Sibblies Drury
8 – 11 pm EST at the WSU Hilberry Theatre
Purchase Tickets

This astounding 2019 Pulitzer Prize drama is a searing examination of families, drama, family dramas, and the insidiousness of white supremacy. Beverly's attempts to create the perfect birthday party for Grandma are challenged by difficult family dynamics. FAIRVIEW's Twists, turns, and revelations will keep you on edge and shock you even after the curtains close. Learn more and see additional times

Social Work Warriors Visit The Wright Museum

The Wayne State University School of Social Work would like to provide tickets for 50 faculty, staff, or students to visit The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, which aims to open minds and change the lives of others through the exploration and celebration of African American history and culture. We encourage our Warrior community to explore the Wright Museum and one of its many exhibits noted below to facilitate our mission of advancing social justice through informed social action and advocacy. Tickets are first-come, first-serve. The Wright Museum Ticket Giveaway closes on February 14, 2022. Tickets will be distributed via email upon closing of the giveaway. Social Work faculty, staff and students – apply for a ticket here.

Take a look at our social media channels (FacebookInstagramLinkedInTwitter) throughout the month to learn more about the following Wright Museum exhibits and join in a discussion with your fellow Warrior community members.

  • King Tutankhamun: “Wonderful Things” from the Pharaoh’s Tomb: The year 2022 marks the 100th anniversary of the discovery of the tomb of the boy Pharaoh (King), Tutankhamun. Described as an innocent puppet-ruler, Pharaoh Tut was caught in the middle of a political, spiritual, and artistic revolution, initiated by his father, Pharaoh Akhenaten. This exhibit vividly brings to life Egypt’s 18th Dynasty.
  • And Still We Rise: From the tragedy of the Middle Passage to the heroism of the Civil Rights Movement and beyond, And Still We Rise offers a comprehensive look at the history of African-American resilience.
  • Detroit Performs!: Detroit Performs! celebrates the luminaries of theater, dance, and music that transformed the Motor City's performing arts scene, and with it, the American pop culture landscape.
  • Ring of Genealogy: Master muralist Hubert Massey lent his creative talent to The Wright to produce this floor-sized installation for the Ford Freedom Rotunda.
  • Stories in Stained Glass: Musicians, dancers, freedom advocates: for stained glass artist Samuel A. Hodge, these figures are beacons of hope and transformation in African-American history and culture.
  • Be Educated!: Listen to leading scholars speak on issues like race, law, and politics while children learn fun stories and workshops that reflect African and African American culture. (online content)
  • Be Entertained!: Watch performances by musical and visual artists from all over the world. (online content)
  • Be Inspired! Witness emboldening performances and conversations that spark creativity and drive change. (online content)

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