One of the first to write about the contributions of African Americans to social welfare was Inabel Burns Lindsay (1900-1983).
Lindsay received her MSW from the University of Chicago, School of Social Administration in 1937 and her DSW from the University
of Pittsburgh in 1952. Urged to join the faculty at Howard University by social worker and sociologist E. Franklin Frazier
who was her classmate as a Urban League Fellow, she taught social work classes to undergraduate students in the sociology
department in the late 1930s. Despite being warned of its impossibility, Lindsay envisioned creating a graduate school of
social work to meet the demand for professionally trained African American social workers. Segregation limited admittance
of African Americans to most schools of social work. At the time Atlanta University's School of Social Work was the only
other institution that catered to African Americans.
Lindsay worked to establish the school and became its first dean in 1945. She served in this capacity for 22 years.
She was a champion for social work, civil rights and social work education for all people. She did not tolerate racial discrimination
by agencies or the profession. Lindsay was the first to speak out against the practice of schools of social work assigning
African American students to only public welfare agencies. Students were seldom placed in the more coveted hospitals or mental
health settings. As a result of her advocacy, the American Association of Schools of Social Work (former name for the Council
on Social Work Education) investigated and found discriminatory practices did exist. Hawkins and Daniels (1985) go on to
describe her activist stance with local agencies:
Locally, she organized a boycott with the social work staff at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore to protest the policy
that Blacks, including students, could not eat in the hospital cafeteria. In situations, where she could not change racist
policies, she removed her students from the agency. She did this with agencies that would not permit students to use the
restroom facilities as white students and clients, and agencies that trained students to call Black clients by first names
and white clients by last names prefaced with courtesy titles.
Lindsay retired as Dean in 1967 but remained active in numerous social work and civic organizations until her death in
1983. In her later years, she was active in the field of gerontology, advocating for quality care and services for Black