Social Workers Respond to Sarah Palin’s Attack on Community Organizers

Sep 4, 2008

The National Association of Social Workers was outraged to hear Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, one of the nation’s vice-presidential candidates, malign in a live international broadcast the work of community organizers.

The social work profession takes great pride in its community organizing roots and lauds the contributions of its members, and other professionals, who commit their careers to helping residents of different communities organize their resources and take social action to improve life for themselves and their families. Small town reformers and urban community organizers have much in common.

The concepts of community organizing, community building and community development undergird the premise of American democracy. As a result of these efforts, institutions and officials often deliver more effective economic growth strategies, as well as mental health, health, and family services for people of all ages.

Community organizing is also the foundation of most successful political campaigns. Meeting fellow Americans in their communities and working with them to find solutions to problems that limit their potential is valuable and necessary work—with significant responsibilities.

The profession of social work was founded on the legacy of outstanding women leaders such as Nobel Laureate Jane Addams, who practiced community organizing in the Settlement Houses she created for the poor and working class immigrants of Chicago. The profession also counts Civil Rights icons such as Dr. Dorothy I. Height among its luminaries. It is fitting that both women are considered two of the most influential people in American history, and are inspirations for many of our country’s finest leaders.

During this election year, NASW encourages both parties to stay focused on issues of substance to the American people. We hope that instead of denigrating the lives and work of huge segments of the population, candidates will demonstrate how their plans for the country will protect and elevate the quality of life for all Americans.