Departmental Papers (SPP)

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

January 2001


This paper explores how African American literature can enrich the analysis of social policy in social work graduate courses. The historic debate between Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois about black progress, and its reflection in subsequent works by Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Shelby Steele, and Cornel West, illustrate that the debate remains present in contemporary affirmative action and welfare reform policies. Using ethnic narratives can expand adult students’ ability to analyze the purposes, consequences, and values underlying social policies and help social workers formulate, document and buttress new policy positions. Such abilities are especially critical for social policies in which race remains a critical influence.


Reprinted from Journal of Teaching in Social Work, Volume 21, Issue 3/4, 2001, pages 7-28.
Publisher URL:


african american literature, social policy, social african american literature, social policy, social



Date Posted: 19 December 2006

This document has been peer reviewed.