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ABSW New York City Chapter
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ABSW New York City History


The Association of Black Social Workers New York City is proud to present our chapter.  Our founders formed us out of their frustration with the oppressive and racist policies in the larger mainstream social work organizations.  Many of them claimed they wanted to help the poor and disenfranchised but systematically excluded the Black voice.  The New York City Chapter started in June 1967 a year before a group of Black Social Workers united and walked out of a meeting at the National Conference on Social Welfare.  They demanded NCSW address racism.  According to Dr.  Patricia Reid-Merrit's book, Righteous Self Determination the Black Social Workers in New York City were the first to use the title the Association of Black Social Workers.  We take this distinction to heart and continually strive to uphold the principals and guidelines of our founders


One of them, Mr.  Cenie "Jomo" Williams was not only the first elected president of the National Association of Black Social Workers but also our New York City Chapter president.  He remained so for many years until his untimely death.  Then Mr.  Robert Knox Sr. lead the chapter for 20 years until he also joined our ancestors.   Mr. Roosevelt George took over until 2008.  Then we proudly elected our first female president, Ms. Gloria Scott.  She remains president to this day.


We've worked very hard as an organization to maintain Cenie's commitment to the community by supporting the professional development of Black Social Workers, fighting racism, aiding in the cultural development of the Black community and reevaluating existing Eurocentric paradigms.


The Chapter has a long history of accomplishments.  In the past, we conducted voter registration drives, we were instrumental in the removal of a racist HRA Commissioner.  We established the Black Family Counseling Unit.  We also developed and managed the Cenie Jomo Williams Housing Complex.   We still maintain the four buildings acquired over 20 years ago.  We've supported social work students with scholarships and fieldwork placements. 


Our organization continues to thrive today.  We established our Senior Citizen's Program and an Adoption Counseling and Referral Service in 1975.  Both programs  continue to provide necessary services to the community.  We have a functioning job bank and two day care centers that have been operating for 30 years.  We also offer both after-school and summer programming for children.  In addition to these programs we provide both tutoring and a Parenting Support Group with our Post Adoption Services.  The chapter has responded to both national and international disasters.  We've provided services for 9-11, the New Orleans devastation, the earthquakes in Haiti, Hurricane Sandy and most recently, we assisted survivors from the 2014 East Harlem Explosion. 


Our goal is to maintain the same level of activism our founders had back in 1967.  Our current community education initiatives include voter registration, mental health workshops, and community breakfast forums.  We've given a number of presentations on Domestic Violence, Post Traumatic Slavery Syndrome, Reentry to the community after Incarceration, medical illnesses and other health issues, public school educational issues, eating disorders, May's Mental Health Month, the Black LGBT community and most recently our May 31st Health Fair.


We could not do this work without honoring the legacy of Cenie Williams. He was a great strategist, an organizer and warrior.  He was committed to the survival of Black people both nationally and internationally.  We plan to be a permanent fixture in the community by (1) partnering with other like-minded organizations, (2) upholding our Code of Ethics and (3) servicing our brothers and sisters.  We remain strong with over 100 financial members.  Although our headquarters is located in East Harlem our members hail from Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx.  We also have members residing in Long Island and Westchester.  Almost 50 years later the Association of Black Social Workers New York City Chapter is here to stay!!!!


 Click /resource/resmgr/ABSWNYC_Newsletter_2014_Fina.pdf for the chapter's newsletter!


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