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Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Affirmative action programs-United States-History, African Americans-Social conditions, Racial reconciliation


Currently numerous voices call for the dismantling of affirmative action policies. This thesis was undertaken to explore the different affirmative action policies enacted at the time of the turn of the 20th century and again in the 21st century. The thesis outlines the history from which affirmative action theory and policy stem. It also explores the purported need for affirmative action over time and takes a closer look at the areas the policies were meant to target. The thesis will focus on the target areas outlined by the Urban League, which every year since its inception, disseminates a publication entitled "The State of Black America." Along with the US census, statistics from the Urban League Reports are used to look at the relative status of black-white equality in the areas of education, economics, health, civic engagement, and social justice The field of social work may benefit from understanding the history of the phenomenon, the different theories and policies enacted to equalize opportunity between whites and blacks, and aspects of the current state of racial equality. This knowledge may be useful in clinical social work, where the culturally competent clinician is encouraged to assess clients from a biopsychosocial perspective, taking into account people's social history and present day realities. Furthermore, the knowledge may be helpful at the macro level, where social workers may be involved in systemic interventions, assessing and forming affirmative action policy.




38 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2011. Includes bibliographical references (p. 35-38)