Doin’ The Work: Frontline Stories of Social Change

Black Power, Black Liberation & Social Work: Back to the Beginning of the National Association of Black Social Workers - Founder Garland Jaggers, MSW & Archivist Denise McLane-Davison, PhD, AM

February 1, 2021

Episode 38
Guests: Garland Jaggers, MSW & Denise McLane-Davison, PhD, AM
Host: Shimon Cohen, LCSW
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Thank you to this episode’s sponsors!

The University of Tennessee Knoxville College of Social Work (UTK) has a phenomenal social work program, with the opportunity to do your bachelor’s master’s, and doctorate of social work online. Scholarships are available.

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In this episode, I talk with Mr. Garland Jaggers and Dr. Denise McLane-Davison about their work with the National Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW). I am incredibly grateful for their participation in this interview. This is important history–and current work–and I’m honored to amplify it on Doin’ The Work. Mr. Garland Jaggers is a former Professor in the Black Studies Department at the University of Detroit and a co-founder of both Detroit’s Association of Black Social Workers and the National Association of Black Social Workers. Dr. Denise McLane-Davison is an Associate Professor at Morgan State University and the Founding Researcher and Archivist of the National Association of Black Social Workers. They discuss the history of NABSW, which started in 1968, soon after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., when a group of Black social workers brought up concerns of racism to the mostly white National Association of Social Workers (NASW). They took over the stage and made demands at the National Conference on Social Welfare (NCSW), walked out, and decided to create their own organization. Mr. Jaggers explains the main issues at the time and details the experience. Dr. Davison explains the need to center Black expertise in research, curriculum, teaching, and other forms of practice. We discuss NABSW’s work developing Black researchers and practitioners, their own code of ethics, and positions on issues such as transracial adoption and licensing. Mr. Jaggers and Dr. Davison share their thoughts on the social work profession, racism, and Black liberation. They talk about their focus on the Black family and community, strengths-based liberatory approaches, and commitment to do this work “by any means necessary.” I hope this conversation inspires you to action.

If you are interested in purchasing Mr. Jaggers’ books That Rare Moment in History Volumes I & II, please contact Mr. Jaggers at

National Association of Black Social Workers

Mr. Garland Jaggers

Dr. Denise McLane-Davison
Twitter: @DeniseDavison
Article: The Strength of Black Families: The Elusive Ties of Perspective and Praxis in Social Work Education  

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