February 2021

From the Director
Kyaien Conner on this Monumental Moment in History
Justin Harty on Black Contributions to Social Work
Reflections on the Black National Anthem
2021–2022 Doctoral Fellowship Application Period Open
Annual Program Meeting 2021
Job Announcements
Professional Development
CSWE Diversity Center’s February Educator|Resource
CSWE Spark!

From the Director

This February marks a Black History Month unlike any other. The Black Lives Matter movement and COVID pandemic have shined a light on stark, damaging mistreatment of Black Americans by police and society. Social work programs have adopted strong language embracing anti-Black racism, and many have pledged to take steps to undo the oppressive structures that have marginalized Black and non-Black people of color. Nationally, many find hope in Kamala Harris’ election as vice president. 

This month’s MFP Connect builds on these ideas through the lens of CSWE MFP’s fellows and alumni. Current doctoral fellow Justin Harty compiled Black contributions to social work and social welfare. Our Associate Director, Spencer L. Middleton, shares his reflections on the Black national anthem. Finally, Kyaien Conner (MFP doctoral ’08) adds her perspective on seeing a Black sorority sister as vice president and what it can mean for mental health practice and policy.

Regardless of our racial and ethnic identities, Black History Month means something to each of us. We encourage you to use our CSWE Spark community to engage with each other on these topics. Through conversation and discourse, we can ensure that the meaning of Black History Month extends throughout the year and over the course of our careers.

In Fellowship, 
Duy Nguyen, PhD
Director, Minority Fellowship Program


Kyaien O. Conner, PhD, LSW, MPH, on This Monumental Moment in History

MFP alumnus Kyaien O. Conner exudes optimism and hope as she reflects on the inauguration of Vice President Kamala Harris and what she and this administration mean for social workers, Black mental health, and the Black community. This optimism extends to her efforts to dismantle stigma around mental Illness in the Black community through storytelling. Listen to learn more!


Justin Harty on Black Contributions to Social Work History

Current doctoral fellow Justin Harty emphasizes that Black social work history is social work history, as he shares what inspired his efforts to compile a bibliography of more than 100 articles and books on Black contributions to mutual aid, social welfare, and social work history. He shares next steps toward centering these contributions in social work education.


The Black National Anthem and the MFP

By Spencer L. Middleton, MSW, MFP Associate Director

In celebrating Black History Month, the MFP would like to bring attention to the Black national anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” and its significance in shepherding scholarships and other educational opportunities such as the MFP. “Lift Every Voice and Sing” was drafted as a poem by James Weldon Johnson and set to music by his brother, John Rosamond Johnson, in 1899. 

James Weldon Johnson, a graduate of Atlanta University (now known as Clark Atlanta University), was a beloved brother of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., civil rights activist, educator, lawyer, and writer. Johnson’s most revered post in the United States was serving as executive director at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, an organization dedicated to eliminating race-based discrimination and ensuring the health and well-being of all persons, particularly African Americans.

The Black national anthem was written during a time when Black communities were forming their own institutions in response to legalized discrimination, Jim Crowe laws, and efforts to undo protections afforded to Black Americans in the Reconstruction Era. The MFP and similar educational opportunities exist, in part, because of the resilience the Black community displayed during such trying times. It is this resilience that James Weldon Johnson captured in the lyrics to the Black national anthem. James Weldon Johnson’s hope was that one day all African Americans would escape the harsh reality of institutionalized racism and have full participation in American democracy.


2021–2022 Doctoral Fellowship Application Period Open

MFP is pleased to announce the opening of our 2021–2022 doctoral fellowship application period. Information on how to apply can be found here. The deadline for submissions is March 16, 2021, at 5:00 pm EDT. The MFP team will be available to answer questions regarding the fellowship program, eligibility criteria, and the application process during scheduled Zoom Q&A sessions. To receive a link to attend, please contact us about the session you are interested in joining.

Annual Program Meeting 2021

CSWE invites proposals for the 67th Annual Program Meeting (APM) in Orlando, FL, November 4–7, 2021. The conference theme—Leading Critical Conversations: Racial, Economic, & Environmental Justice—builds on the theme of the 2020 APM, which focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion and challenged us to prepare the next generation of social workers to be explicitly antiracist. Submission deadline: Wednesday, February 24, 2021, 11:59 pm EST.

CSWE is also accepting applications for reviewers for the 67th APM. Reviews will take place from March 9–March 26, 2021. Prospective reviewers are asked to review a list of 40 Tracks and select up to three that align with their areas of expertise. The only requirements are to understand written English and to have expertise in the topical areas.