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National Council of Negro Women
Learn more about
Dr. Dorothy I. Height


Can We Live Up to the Social Work Legacy?
Elizabeth F. Franklin, MSW
Written Remarks
September 2009

Hi, I’m Elizabeth Franklin with the National Association of Social Workers. I am the Project Manager and Lobbyist for the Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young, Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act. I’d like to take a moment to thank the thousands of NASW members and social workers across the country who have written emails, postcards, and letters to their members of Congress asking them to support the Social Work Reinvestment Act.  I’d also like to explain why this bill is important to all social workers and why we still need your help.

I’m standing in front of the Department of Labor in Washington, DC.  This building was named after Frances Perkins in 1980.  Perkins was President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Secretary of Labor, the first female cabinet member and a social worker.  She began her work in settlement houses, became a leader in the labor movement organizing for workers rights, and was chosen by FDR to be his Secretary of Labor where she served from 1933 to 1945.  Perkins significantly contributed to New Deal legislation and created what eventually became the Social Security Act of 1935.     

This is the National Council of Negro Women where Dr. Dorothy I. Height served as President from 1957 until 1997.  Dr. Height still serves as President Emerita today. She is one of the most influential figures in the civil rights movement and is still working everyday to secure equal rights for women and people of color.  She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal for her tireless work.  She is a social worker, and began her career working with the New York City Welfare Department as a case worker.  We are honored to name the Social Work Reinvestment Act after Dr. Dorothy I. Height.

We also consider it a privilege to name the legislation after Whitney Young.  I’m standing in front of the wall of Presidents at NASW and as you can see, Whitney Young was our first African American President.  Also a civil rights leader, Young is widely recognized as the co-author of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty. He spent most of his life working to end employment discrimination and transformed the National Urban League into a leader in the civil rights movement.

Dorothy Height, Frances Perkins and Whitney Young made our world a more equitable place.  They used their social work skills to mediate tense situations, create progressive social change, and lead our country to overcome many of our greatest struggles.  It is up to us to continue building on this extraordinary legacy.  The Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young, Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act will help us to ensure that our profession survives and thrives and we can meet the emerging needs of millions of clients across the country. 
As you can see, we are on Capitol Hill every day constantly asking Representatives and Senators to sign on as cosponsors of the Social Work Reinvestment Act. But they must hear from you, their constituents. Simply click the links on this page and send them a message today. We appreciate you being advocates for your profession.