Change agents, transformers and essential workers describe what the profession of social work means to Marshall native and widely celebrated social work pioneer Velma Banks.

As March comes to a close, Banks, a Wiley alumni and social worker of 66 years, reflected on the influence social workers have made globally.

性视界传媒淪ocial Work Month is celebrated each March. It is a time to celebrate this great profession of social work and to recognize all who devote themselves to the mission and purpose of service,性视界传媒 said Banks. It was first organized in 1963 by the National Association of Social Workers. This year性视界传媒檚 theme is 性视界传媒楨mpowering Social Workers.性视界传媒

性视界传媒淪ocial workers are trained to help people address personal and systemic barriers to optimal living. And March is really recognized as a very fine month to celebrate the social worker as essential,性视界传媒 she added.

According to , a social workers mission is to advocate for living conditions conducive to the fulfillment of basic human needs and to promote social, economic, political, and cultural values and institutions that are compatible with the realization of social justice.

性视界传媒淪ocial work is essential so the social worker has to do essential things to recreate conditions that are not healthy,性视界传媒 said Banks.

Banks, who was honored with a documentary that pays tribute to her life性视界传媒檚 work, began her journey in social work upon graduating from Wiley College in 1956, followed by graduate school at Atlanta University School of Social Work, in Georgia, in 1958. After earning her sociology degree from Wiley, she said she was blessed to get a scholarship for graduate school.

性视界传媒淚性视界传媒檝e been a social worker since 1958. Historically, what brought me out of Marshall from Wiley College to go to graduate school that was for social workers is I don性视界传媒檛 think social workers were that predominate in Marshall,性视界传媒 she recalled. 性视界传媒淚 was just blessed to have that scholarship into Atlanta University. That was a blessing, because really, my help comes from the Lord because I did not plan what I was going to study or what I was going to be.性视界传媒

Founded in 1920, the Whitney M. Young Jr. School of Social Work is the nation性视界传媒檚 first accredited school of social work at a historically black college or university (HBCU). After earning her master性视界传媒檚 degree, Banks relocated to New York, where she underwent her training at the New York State Training School for Girls.

Banks landed her first job in New York as a group worker with the Bureau of Community Education in Brooklyn.

Dr. Howard Thurman性视界传媒檚 commencement message 性视界传媒淭he Sound of the Genuine,性视界传媒 given at her graduate school graduation, inspired her to make it her mission to impact change.

性视界传媒淒r. Thurman said there is something in each of us that listens and waits for the sound of the genuine. That is such a profound statement,性视界传媒 said Banks. 性视界传媒淪o as a result of coming out of Atlanta University School of Social Work at graduation, that性视界传媒檚 who sent me not knowing that he was sending me to change.性视界传媒

Following her service at the community center in Brooklyn, Banks性视界传媒 social work career continued as an administrator and educator in most of the social work agencies in the five boroughs of New York, including Edwin Gould Services for Children, Harlem Dowling Children and Family Services, and Graham-Windham Children Services. Additionally, she served on the faculty of Columbia University School of Social Work and John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Banks furthered her mission, establishing mobile self-development groups and self-discovery workshops for those seeking to discover their cultural heritage and their God-given potential.

性视界传媒淚 trained social workers, and I loved training the trainer. My whole context is train the trainer, so I can leave my legacy for someone else,性视界传媒 she said. 性视界传媒淭he students that I trained were attending Columbia University. My office was at the New York Urban League. The students who came to be prepared went out to agencies in the general five boroughs in New York (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island). And one of my students was responsible for working with the domestic community to redirect their employment home story性视界传媒 and they worked with Eleanor Holmes Norton, who was a Congresswoman out of DC. She was part of the Commission for Household Employment.

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性视界传媒淏ut the bottom line as a result of two students working in the New York Urban League, we transformed the word from domestic to household technician,性视界传媒 she said. 性视界传媒淲e went to Albany for advocating. So we worked with the politicians. So for those students that was their assignment to work with this group of women who were in the profession of domestic workers, so domestic workers name shifted from household workers to household technician.性视界传媒

Banks also focused on empowering people by changing the world 性视界传媒渃lient性视界传媒 to 性视界传媒渟eeker性视界传媒 with a goal to seek a better future. Before relocating back to her hometown Marshall, Banks性视界传媒 last fulltime job in New York was as an adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Banks still serves as an active, guidance social worker today under the auspices of her own company, Banks Enterprise.

As president of Banks Enterprise, she has directed the International Center for Social Work Education and Training, which is designed to offer alternative modalities for social work intervention and problem solving. Banks also founded Children of The Light, which is an after school and summer program designed to teach children their cultural heritage and develop their self confidence and self respect.

Banks has traveled extensively in her research work and program development, which evolved out of a concern for the miseducation of the public regarding African American history in particularly.

性视界传媒淎s I was looking at the areas of influence 性视界传媒 change agent and transformation性视界传媒 I grew into the word transformation性视界传媒.and my efforts really are to redirect the narrative and the discourse, change the narrative and the discourse and perception of a race of people. That性视界传媒檚 my whole life,性视界传媒 she said.

Her interest took her on journeys throughout the nation and globally, including Guyana, Kenya, Egypt, Tanzania, South Africa, the Caribbean and Brazil.

性视界传媒淐olumbia had the contract to train foreign Peace Corps. Students were trained to go into international countries and do social work性视界传媒 It性视界传媒檚 like the context of missionaries. This is all state and federal, so they would go in and represent the country,性视界传媒 she shared. 性视界传媒淪o, I was one of the trainers through Columbia University. So, I did foreign Peace Corps, domestic Peace Corps and I trained students. And now of my students, as a result of training with me, is a retired Supreme Court judge. She did the domestic one. She transformed the domestic to household technician that we got in the House of Congress. And then another student became a full professor at John Jay College for Criminal Justice that性视界传媒檚 a major author. They性视界传媒檙e both retired now.性视界传媒

Additionally, as an author, Banks性视界传媒 published work includes a social work guide titled, 性视界传媒淎re You Ready?性视界传媒 and book of poetry dubbed 性视界传媒淎 Song of Inspiration.性视界传媒

As president of the World of Community of Social Workers, Banks strives to continue the work and legacy of Whitney M. Young Jr., the namesake of the school of social work at her alma mater. The late Young was a notable civil rights pioneer, social worker and statesman who served as the first dean of the School of Social Work at Atlanta University, now known as Clark Atlanta. Banks said Young was an advocate for human justice and social equality.

Banks性视界传媒 work with the World of Community of Social Workers has earned her several awards, including the first Whitney M. Young Jr. Leadership Award from Clark Atlanta University School of School Work. A member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, she was most recently honored by the Bronze Alumnae Chapter during its 10th annual ceremony 性视界传媒淪tanding On Their Shoulders: A Celebration of the Wisdom of Women.性视界传媒 Additionally, she性视界传媒檚 been honored by the National Association of Workers as a social work leader, and was selected as an NASW Social Work Pioneer in March 2012.

In June 2023, she traveled from Marshall to New York for a special viewing of her documentary, shown at the Abyssinian Baptist Church Center for Care and Advocacy. The event featured the life and legacy of Banks with the documentary and discussion with the honoree.

Banks said social work, as her chosen profession and practice, has allowed her to devote her life to helping individuals evolve successfully. Her documentary follows her on her mission to accomplish such. According to the abstract, the focus and exploration of her work, offers a humanistic look at the world in which we live through culture and stories by an extraordinary human being, educator, social worker, an advocate for equal rights and visionary.

性视界传媒淚t性视界传媒檚 just amazing,性视界传媒 she said of having a documentary made in her honor. Banks hopes to share it someday in a public viewing in her hometown, Marshall. She said her life性视界传媒檚 work is also a great tribute to her undergraduate alma mater, Wiley.

性视界传媒淭he major professors of social work are social work pioneers. There are thousands of them. I性视界传媒檓 just one of them,性视界传媒 she said. 性视界传媒淪omeone thought enough of my work to spend time to submit the application to the National Association of Social Workers who determines who is a pioneer.性视界传媒

— Robin Y. Richardson can be reached at