There has been an increasing interest by newer members of the NABSW regarding the formation of the NABSW in 1968. Some have been intrigued by the reality that this organization has continued all these years without outside funding. Some have been amazed that the NABSW has remained true to its roots as an African/ African- American/Black organization. The panel includes some of the founders who coalesced in San Francisco in 1968 to form the national organization. These individuals came from all parts of the country; some of them had already formed local black social work organizations. We will examine the climate that led to the formation, the ideology which underpins the organization, and importantly how the past should inform the future direction of NABSW.
This is the climate that compelled a group of 5 social workers: (pictured above left to right) Barbara Williams, Horace Austin, Shirley Better, Leonard Mackerel, and Georgia Parks to community action. The first meeting to form ABSW was held at City Central Mental Health Clinic in April 1968. We were stunned by the huge turnouts. We, Black Social Workers, had enough. From this initial meeting, the fledgling Association of Black Social Workers of Greater Los Angeles planned with other black social workers around the country to protest at the National Conference on Social Welfare in San Francisco in 1968. Out of that protest, the formation of the National Association of Black Social Workers was created.