Social Work Warriors celebrate Black History Month – 2024

In February, Black History Month, we honor Black leaders who have changed the societal landscape and helped empower social change in their communities. The story of Black History Month began in 1926 as “National Negro History Week”, sponsored by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. The second week of February was selected to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. By the late 1960’s the week evolved into a month-long celebration known as Black History Month honoring the contributions of African Americans across the U.S.

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.



Connect puzzle piece iconWe encoure you to connect with your fellow Warriors and community members via an upcoming event (see below) being held across campus and Midtown Detroit honoring Black History Month. You can also connect virtually with on social media (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, X) via our Warrior Collaborations Campaign. Throughout February we will be spotlighting community, research, program, and student collaborations with Detroit’s Black leaders. Learn more about these initiatives below and join the discussion!


Spotlights: Warrior Collaborations with Detroit’s Black Community

Handshake icon"Black History month is a tapestry of collaborative work used to break chains of injustice, while also embracing the rich thought diversity among colleagues and friends," noted Assistant Professor and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Coordinator J. Lloyd Allen, PhD. Embedded in the heart of Detroit, Wayne State University prides itself on developing social work practitioners, conducting research, and fostering community engagement focused on diverse urban communities. Through these collaborations, we work hand-in-hand with our Wayne State and Detroit communities to advance social justice. 

Community collaboration

In my role as a community engaged researcher, I am dedicated to researching and promoting solutions that address the unique challenges faced by African American children and families in Detroit. By conducting research, raising awareness, and engaging in meaningful dialogue, I strive to contribute knowledge that can inform policies and initiatives aimed at bridging gaps and promoting social justice. – Shantalea Johns, EdD

We have a responsibility and opportunity to engage, build trust, and partner with the community on the creation of new knowledge that benefits the community. As social workers, we move beyond seeing the community only as a potential pool of subjects to be studied, but rather, as an integral partnership that includes capacity building. The longstanding relationship between the SSW and Black Family Development (BFDI), a comprehensive non-profit family counseling agency, is a perfect example of the type of community collaborations we engage in every day. BFDI has partnered with Assistant Professor Clinical and Director of Continuing Education Shantalea Johns, EdD and researchers at the Center for Social Work Research to help assess and enhance the effectiveness of their new Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic. The clinic, “Detroit's Integrated Hope and Healing Community Clinic”, will provide a transformative model of integrated community behavioral health care. The School’s will elevate the quality of care by ensuring that it is evidence-based, trauma-informed, recovery-oriented, and centered around the needs of both individuals and their families. BFDI will achieve this by providing a full range of services, including mental health, substance use disorder, and primary care screenings to Detroit families.

Research collaboration

Black/African American suffering has a longstanding tradition of habitually being on full display for the world to witness. To better understand the ways that Black/African Americans, more specifically Black/African American males across the lifespan, this qualitative study uses Hip-Hop as a way to engage Black/African American males in conversations that allows them to feel heard and respected and to identify non-traditional approaches that may de-stigmatize help-seeking behaviors. - J. Lloyd Allen

Assistant Professor J. Lloyd Allen, PhD and SSW alum and School-based Behavioral Therapist Fadil Adeyola, MSW are currently exploring the potential benefits of combining Hip-Hop music with specific mental health discussions, among Black men. Through the analyzation of feedback garnered from a survey and a series of bi-weekly online focus groups, Allen will look to see if combining Hip-Hop songs and lyrics into group discussions can make conversations about anger, depression, identity, happiness, and relationships easier and more beneficial for Black men. Participants will be provided with a playlist on five different themes, and then asked to discuss their reactions/interpretations of these songs. Allen and the participants will explore if Hip-Hop could help to create a new image of what emotional expression and vulnerability looks like in Black men. Those who are 18 years and older, identify as a Black male, and have a love for hip-hop are encouraged to contact Professor Allen at to learn more.

Student collaboration

People want to see themselves, know someone has an idea of their lived experience or understanding of their culture/mores/values, or just to identify with. ABSW is working to create innovative ways to support the next generation of Black social workers and meet the needs of our diverse clientele. - Geoffrey Jones, LLMSW

With guidance from WSU School of Social Work Academic Services Officer II Geoffrey Jones, LLMSW, the Association of Black Social Workers (ABSW) student org aims to create a sacred space for social justice, activism and advocacy within the social work community. Led by Social Work PhD student and ABSW President Keshaum Houston, and MSW student and ABSW Vice-President Roman Bell, ABSW use a collaborative and collective approach to organizing initiatives and special events including Elevate Their Voices held each February in recognition of Black History Month. Slated for February 23, 2024, this event will highlight a specific topic affecting the affecting the African American population in some way, positive or negative. All can benefit from attending, and it is open to everyone. Learn more

Program collaboration

I remember the male mentors and figures who influenced my life because of their ability to relate to race, gender identity, and cultural interests. There was no secret these types of positive role models were a rare and valuable force. – Lawrence Robinson, LMSW

It is no secret that the social work field is overwhelmingly white and female dominated. But how do we expand the diversity of social work professionals, particularly Black and Latinx males? Academic Advisors Geoffrey R. Jones, LLMSW and Lawrence Robinson, LMSW have worked to expand the diversity of students in the SSW and provide a roadmap for schools across the nation seeking to do the same. Housed in Michigan’s most diverse university, the SSW has worked to support the unique needs of its diverse student population which comprises nearly 45% of the entire study body. This project has not only expanded the School’s existing efforts to attract minority males, but also developed specialized supports for their educational journey. Through the identification of primary barriers that deter minority males from pursuing the social work profession, Jones and Robinson have worked to developed resources and support service partnerships within the WSU campus community and Detroit area partners. Learn more



Calendar and clock iconA variety of events will be held across campus this February in honor of Black History Month. Below are a few highlights from campus and community. View the full WSU Black History Month calendar and consider participating in community resources such as the Liberation Calendar: A New Black History Month Daily Practice. We hope to see you at an upcoming event! 

February 2 – March 31: Ruth E. Carter: Afrofuturism in Costume Design
Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
This new exhibition features over 60 of the Two-Time Academy Award winning costumer designer’s original designs from iconic films such as Black Panther, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Malcolm X, Do The Right Thing, and more.

February 4 – 23: Regeneration: Black Cinema 1898 – 1971
Detroit Institute of Arts
The DIA honors the legacy of African Americans in film with costumes, props, photographs, posters and interactive elements.

February 10: Storytelling with Madelyn Porter
2 pm at the DIA Lecture Hall

Madelyn Porter invites you to celebrate Black History month with a joyful and inspiring tribute to African American History through music, prose, poetry, folktales, song, and dance.

February 15: Behind the Publication - Living Singlehood: The Values and Strategies Shaping Unmarried Life for Black Women
4 – 5 pm at the WSU Undergraduate Library Humanities Common

Assistant Professor Jessica Moorman spoke with 51 single Black women living in Detroit about their experiences of unmarried life to gain a better understanding of the unique challenges facing Black women in singlehood.

February 20: Detroit History is Black History Panel Discussion
5 – 7 pm at the WSU Industry Innovations Center

This panel discussion will explore Detroit’s Black history from the 1800’s to present day.

Save the Date - February 23: Elevate Their Voices
3:30 – 5:00 pm, location TBD
The WSU 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 in support of Black History Month. Additional details will be forthcoming.

February 23: Friday Night Live!: The Black Opry Revue
7 pm at the DIA Detroit Film Theatre

Black Opry performers include Isaiah Cunningham, Christine Melody, Jett Holden, and Nathan Graham.

February 24: A To Sangana cultural experience
1 – 4 pm at the WSU Hilberry Gateway

Enjoy African finger food, pastries, beverages, and more! The studio will offer Dance presentations, sample African, ballet, contemporary, Afro Beat classes, spoken word, and a drum jam session.

February 24: Original Play, “The Beginnings of the Boycott”
1 pm at the Henry Ford Museum Plaza

This original play brings us inside the discussion among Parks, E.D. Nixon, JoAnn Robinson, and a young Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as they strategize an initiative with a greater impact beyond the Montgomery bus boycott.

February 25: On the Shoulders of Giants: Celebrating Black History Month
10 am – 4 pm at the Detroit Historical Society
This event will highlight The Hustle, a community-driven initiative to honor Black Detroit entrepreneurs. This includes a day full of activities for all ages, including a vender marketplace with local stores.

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