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Social Work in Black History

In honor of Black History Month, I wanted to write a post about social work in Black History! This post was inspired by The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution documentary that aired on PBS on February 16, 2016. The film was directed and produced by Stanley Nelson. If you did not have a chance to watch the documentary, you can catch it on before March,18, 2016!

Black history and social work go hand in hand. From social justice efforts like the civil rights movement to social welfare programs like the Black Panther's Free Breakfast for Kids program, our history of progress and triumph is built on social work efforts.

The Black Panthers documentary highlighted many of the social work activities that define the legacy of the Black Panther Party. One that I already mentioned is the Free Breakfast for Kids program. This social welfare program was the first organized free school breakfast program in the country and served over 20,000 kids in 19 cities throughout the country a full breakfast every school day.

The Free Breakfast for Kids Program is one of many social welfare programs that were part of the Black Panthers' Community Survival Programs. Other programs included free health clinics and community health classes, GED classes, nutrition classes and free pest control programs. For a full list of programs, click here. I was very impressed by all of the programs the Black Panther Party offered to the community. I was especially impressed by all of the wellness oriented programs including nutrition classes given my passion for wellness and nutrition.

The programs provided by the Black Panther party truly represent the Party's commitment to self-determination. Self determination is important to social work's value system as well .This principle is part of the profession's Code of Ethics. Social Work defines self-determination as one's "capacity and opportunity to change and to address their own needs." The programs provided by the Black Panther Party truly enhanced the opportunity for self-determination in the communities they served.

In addition to self-determination, the Black Panther Party embodied other social work values including service and social justice. The Community Survival Programs represent service and the Party's demand for decent housing, education, fair employment and an end to police brutality, represent social justice.

Overall, I am so happy to be part of a profession that is commited to improving lives and happy to celebrate the history and legacy of black people! What is your favorite Black History Story? Comment below!

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