Martin Luther King Jr. is hero of mine. Chances are if you follow me I assume you may feel the same way. He should be a hero to anyone interested in positive change and social justice. When you look at Dr. King’s body of work, he personifies social work at it’s roots. He was a community organizer and fighter for social justice. He also had some serious “micro” or engagement skills that contributed to the cause.
In the #macrosw community on twitter we often debate the identity of social workers. Are we therapists or are macro social workers (community organizers)? As a practicing therapist, I often forget our macro roots; that social work is both. Sadly, the last chapter of Dr. King’s life illustrates this well. His last act was to assist Memphis sanitation workers. It was a fight for social justice. Two African-American sanitation workers had been accidentally killed, with no response from the city. He as also trying to bring light to issues of poverty as many other workers were poorly compensated. He engaged with union leaders to develop a solution.
In this moving speech (sadly the last he made), Dr. King demonstrated what a strong change agent he was. A person that commanded respect but also did a lot to earn it. To the end it was both his ability to engage with individuals and organize as a community that made him a social work hero..