Racial Justice Symposium - University of Houston
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Social work has a complex history of upholding White supremacy alongside a goal to achieve racial justice. Moreover, our profession simultaneously practices within racist systems and works to dismantle them. In the wake of a fervent #BlackLivesMatter movement and persistent racial disparities in key social welfare institutions, these paradoxes have come to the forefront of discussion in academic and practice circles. This unique moment presents an opportunity to interrogate our profession’s relationship to White supremacy and racial justice in order to reimagine an anti-racist future.

We hope you’ll join us for a series of virtual symposia that will address these themes. Symposium events will occur throughout the academic year and will address different aspects of our past, present, and future. Specific dates for each event are below. The tabs above will direct you to each event’s main page where you can view recordings of past events and additional information about upcoming events.

Part One – Social Work’s Historical Legacy of Racism and White Supremacy
November 12 & 13, 2020

Part Two – Addressing Racism Within the Social Work Profession: Reflections on Our Past and Present
January 28 & 29, 2021 

Part Three – Envisioning an Anti-Racist Future: From Practice to Policy
March 4 & 5, 2021

Part Four – Strategies for Achieving Racial Justice in Social Work Education
April 15 & 16, 2021

Conference Organizers

Laura Abrams
UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs

Laura Abrams is Professor and Chair of Social Welfare at UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. Her ethnographic scholarship has critically examined experiences of youth in the US justice system through reentry and the transition to adulthood. Currently she is pursuing research in the area of youth justice policy which incorporates cross-national comparative studies and a focus on racial justice. More Laura Abrams

Sandra Edmonds Crewe
Howard University School of Social Work

Sandra Edmonds Crewe is dean and professor of social work at Howard University.  Dr. Crewe previously held the position of interim dean, and associate dean for academic and student advancement.  She has research, scholarship, and public advocacy in the areas of caregiving, aging, ethnogerontology, welfare reform, and social welfare history. She has numerous publications in these areas. More


Alan Dettlaff
University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work

Alan J. Dettlaff was appointed Dean of the Graduate College of Social Work and the inaugural Maconda Brown O’Connor Endowed Dean’s Chair in May 2015. Prior to joining the University of Houston, Dean Dettlaff served on the faculty of the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He received his bachelor’s degree in social work from TCU, and master’s in social work and PhD from the University of Texas at Arlington. More Alan Dettlaff

James Herbert Williams
Arizona State University School of Social Work

James Herbert Williams' research and scholarship focuses on K-12 academic performance, youth violence, delinquency prevention, adolescent substance use, race and gender differences, and mental health service needs and utilization patterns in urban schools.

Prior to joining ASU, served as professor, dean, Distinguished Emil M. Sunley Endowed Chair, and Milton Morris Endowed Chair at the University of Denver, Graduate School of Social Work. He previously served at ASU as Foundation Professor of Youth and Diversity in the School of Social Work. More

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