Civil rights is the protection of citizens from infringement by governmental entities and the extension of basic rights. Civil rights are based on citizenship status. The 14th Amendment establishes U.S. citizenship that has been extended throughout history to different groups. Civil rights legislation is grounded in this question of citizenship. As social workers, it is important that we understand this relationship and advocate to continue broadening the constitutional promise of “equal protection under the laws” to all who reside within the United States.
Tanya Smith Brice, Denise McLane-Davison, and Tyler A. Brice
Robert G. Madden
The law is a powerful force in all aspects of contemporary U.S. society. The legal system furnishes the context and procedures for the creation and enforcement of laws to resolve disputes, to protect rights, and generally to maintain order. Social workers are expected to understand the basic workings of the legal system generally, in addition to having knowledge of specific laws relevant to their area of practice. Knowledge of the legal system provides the foundation to support social workers to undertake social justice initiatives, to give voice to vulnerable client populations, and to work for legal rules that support good social work practice and positive outcomes for the clients and communities served.
Mildred Delozia and Charles M. S. Birore
Black Lives Matter (BLM), which led to the Black Lives Matter movement (BLMM), has been described as a movement with a global following. The movement is aligned with the social work profession’s purpose and values. The social work profession is a human rights profession and has a history of involvement with movements, beginning with the settlement house movement in the late 19th century. The BLMM frames its narrative based on human rights and espouses an agenda that calls out injustice in all facets of social justice. Therefore, a central aim is to understand the BLMM from multiple perspectives. Definitions, theoretical perspectives, and types of social movements are presented, and then the framework of social movements is used to understand the BLMM. Finally, the BLMM is examined in relation to historical social movements, advocacy organizations, and criminal justice reform.
Since the 19th century, social movements have provided U.S. social work with its intellectual and theoretical foundations and many of its leaders. Social workers played leadership roles in the Progressive movement and have made important contributions to the labor, feminist, civil rights, welfare rights, and peace movements for over a century. Since the 1960s, social workers have also been active in New Social Movements, although not to the same extent as in the past. These movements have focused on issues of identity, self-esteem, human rights, and the development of oppositional critical consciousness. Social workers have also been involved in international movements that have emerged in response to economic globalization, environmental degradation, and major population shifts, including mass immigration. More recently in the United States, social workers have played a supportive role in the transnational Occupy Wall Street movement, the Black Lives Matter movement, the #MeToo movement, and organized efforts to establish marriage equality, protect immigrants and refugees, promote the rights of transgender persons, and advocate for environmental justice.