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Bryn Mawr College Chapter ABSW




As the Assistant Dean of Admissions of the Graduate School of Social Work at Bryn Mawr College, Nancy Kirby was charged with giving administrative support as well as advising the student chapter of the National Association of Black Social Workers, Inc. (NABSW) at Bryn Mawr. She has written the following history in the spirit of Sankofa. This is a work in progress that will be developed more fully.

Prior to the inception of the chapter, from as early as 1966, Black students had been organized at the GSSWSR to address various issues including recruitment of students and faculty of African descent and advocating for more inclusion of curriculum content from the African American perspective. In addition, Black students had pressed for inclusion of material that did not       portray African Americans from a deficit or pathological perspective.

The NABSW chapter at Bryn Mawr was organized in 1983 by Carolyn Bolling Adams and Roxie Williams. They were inspired through a course taught by Professor Raymond Albert. Ruth Mayden, then Associate Dean, was instrumental in gaining Dean Rick Gaskins’ support for the establishment of the organization.

Once formed, the chapter continued efforts of earlier groups at the GSSWSR. Student members focused on identifying appropriate texts and course content related to African Americans and other underrepresented groups. In addition, making recommendations for appropriation of library materials was a major activity. The chapter has also been active in advocating for the hiring of faculty members of color. Additionally, the chapter encouraged members to volunteer for faculty-student committees such as admissions, policy and field education. The chapter has engaged in ongoing projects of community service, especially in terms of collecting items for agencies serving African American communities.

The faculty and administration set aside funds to send student representatives to the annual conference of NABSW and for community service activities. Through the years, there has been some concern about using GSSWR funds for an organization that does not have an open membership. However, all events hosted by the chapter have been inclusive.

In the 1980s, the NABSW chapter was the first group to host a Black History Month celebration. Early programs were held in Thomas Great Hall and featured poet Sonia Sanchez, the African Methodist Episcopal mass choir and African and African American vendors of African American products. Later, the programs were held at the GSSWSR, allowing more flexibility and lowering costs in terms of refreshments. Panels were featured to address topics such as homelessness, the status of the Black male, and Black families.

Over the years, the activities of the chapter have waxed and waned based on the time and interests of the Black student population at any given time. With the most recent reorganization of the Black Alumni Group, there has been renewed support from the alums for the Black students in general and NABSW in particular. Also, there has been an ongoing connection with the local chapter of NABSW, the Alliance of Black Social Workers, Inc. with GSSWSR alums in the lead.

The local chapter installed the 2013 officers on Sunday, September 15, 2013 with Dr. Thaddeus P. Mathis officiating. Installed were Sharon L. Kimber, President, Shakera Harris, Vice President, Telia Williams Second Vice President, Marketta Kelly, Secretary, and Karen White, Treasurer.

During the 2013 - 2014 school year, the chapter had two inaugural events. On Saturday, January 11, 2014, the chapter presented a symposium on African-center social work. The symposium was facilitated by Dr. Thaddeus P. Mathis and well attended by students and alumni along with social workers and human service workers who provide services to people of African descent. The chapter had its first “Black is Beautiful” Black history event on Saturday, February 1, 2014, where it recognized Professor Raymond Albert, Alumna Nancy Kirby, Alumna and Elder Tawana Ford-Sabbath, and Alumnus and Elder Julius Hayes for their continued support of the chapter. The proceeds from the event totaled $1,760 after expenses and were used to support the chapter members who attended the 46th Annual NABSW Conference.

The installation of chapter officers took place on Saturday, May 3, 2014. The newly installed officers are Judith Snow, President, Telia Williams, Second Vice President, and Lance Wilson, Parliamentarian.

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