Janie Porter Barett: Janie Porter Barrett, born in 1865 and the daughter of former slaves, was an American social reformer, educator, and pioneer in welfare work. She graduated from Hampton Institute in Hampton, Va., in 1884 and worked for five years as a teacher before establishing an informal day-care school in her home in Hampton.
In 1890, Barrett formed the Locust Street Social Settlement, which was the first settlement organization for African-Americans in the United States. By 1909, the settlement had clubs for children, women, and senior citizens and provided resources and learning to help improve home and community life. In 1915, Barrett established the Virginia Industrial School for Colored Girls, a residential school for young black girls who had been incarcerated that provided girls with tools, training and other supports to engage positively in their communities. Barrett also founded the Virginia State Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs.
For more information on the life and work of Janie Porter Barrett, check out this Brittanica article.
As an organization that believes in the power of families and communities, we honor Janie for her work in providing a residential school for young black girls and ensuring they had the necessary tools and support to succeed.
Úrsula Hilaria Celia de la Caridad Cruz Alfonso (October 21, 1925 – July 16, 2003), better known as Celia Cruz, was a Cuban singer and one of the most popular Latin artists of the 20th century. Cruz began her career in Cuba as a singer of guarachas during the 1950s, where she earned the nickname “La Guarachera de Cuba”. Later, Cruz became known internationally as the “Queen of Salsa” and “The Queen of Latin Music” for her contributions to Latin music.
The soulful voice and charismatic performances of Celia Cruz transcended musical and demographic barriers, helping to popularize salsa music in the United States and around the world. In songs like “La negra tiene tumbao” Cruz celebrated her Cuban culture, also helping Afro-Latino Americans to embrace their own identity and heritage with pride.
As an organization that recognizes the importance of cultural heritage and pride in strengthening identity and building community, we honor legendary performer, Celia Cruz, for her immense contributions to celebrating the Afro-Latino experience.
For more information on the life and work of Celia Cruz, check out the full biography on her website.
The first historically black colleges and universities, also called HBCUs, such as Cheyney University of Pennsylvania (1837) and Lincoln University (1854), were founded before the American Civil War to provide black youth with basic education and training during a time when racial discrimination largely prevented them from attending established institutions of learning. Mostly concentrated in the southern United States, the number of HBCUs kept growing up through the Civil Rights Act of 1964, increasing educational access and providing critical learning opportunities to the black community as segregation continued to prohibit or greatly limited black enrollment in higher education throughout America.
Currently, there are 107 HBCUs in the United States, including both public and private institutions (of 121 institutions that existed during the 1930s). HBCUs offer a variety of degrees centering on children and families, including: Alabama A&M University and Howard University (family & child welfare), Jackson State University (child care & family education), and Bowie State University (child & adolescent studies).
Among the graduates of HBCUs are U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris (Howard University), Senator Raphael Warnock (Morehouse College), child welfare pioneer Janie Porter Barrett (Hampton University), children’s rights activist and Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman (Spelman College), social justice advocate and poet Langston Hughes (Lincoln University), and literary giant Toni Morrison (Howard University).
Named one the 30 most influential social workers in the nation by the “Social Work Degree Guide” in 2014, Keith Alford, Ph.D., A.C.S.W., is a tireless social justice advocate, social worker, and educator who is committed to social policy reform and the pursuit of social justice for all. He specializes in mental health service delivery to children and families. His research interests include culturally-specific programming for children in out-of-home care, contemporary rites of passage programming, loss and grief reactions among African American families, and human diversity. Alford received his PhD from Ohio State University and is a licensed independent social worker for the state of Ohio. He is an active member of the Council on Social Work Education and the National Association of Social Workers.
Alford’s dedication to community service touches down through work with community organizations such as Interfaith Works, the Onondaga County Public Library, and Access CNY, an organization that serves people with disabilities. In 2015, he was given the Harriet Tubman Spirit Award from Bethany Baptist Church. Alford’s academic writings have appeared in numerous social work journals and he has authored book chapters in “Mental Health Care in the African American Community” (Haworth Press, 2007) and “Educating Our Black Children” (Routledge, 2001). He is co-editor of “Rural Families and Reshaping Human Services” (Routledge, 2015).
In 2019, Dr. Keith A. Alford was appointed Syracuse University’s first chief diversity and inclusion officer. Prior to assuming this role, Alford served as associate professor and chair of Syracuse University’s Falk College School of Social Work. His support of EDI initiatives at Syracuse is highlighted through involvement with groups such as the Division of Enrollment and the Student Experience’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council and the Student of Color Advisory Committee.
As an agency focused on stronger families and a fair, just child welfare system, we applaud Keith Alford’s efforts to create understanding and dialogue around people’s real experiences.
Read this interview with Dr. Alford to learn more about his “room-for-all” approach to EDI, education and work with children and families here.
Danny K. Davis is an American politician who has served as the U.S. Representative from the 7th congressional district of Illinois for 24 years. Prior to joining the U.S. House of Representatives, Davis was active in local politics during much of the time Harold Washington was Chicago’s Mayor, sitting on the Cook County Board of Commissioners for seven years (1990 – 1997) and serving on the Chicago City Council as Alderman of the 29th Ward (1979-1990) for 11 years.
Known for his work as an effective legislator, community organizer, civil rights advocate, and educator, Congressman Davis has demonstrated a longstanding commitment to advancing progressive public policies on healthcare, child and family welfare, disability rights, immigration, job creation, housing, poverty, and criminal justice reform. At the forefront of his efforts is his concern for young people, including older children in foster care.
In 2020, he sponsored the bipartisan Supporting Foster Youth and Families through the Pandemic Act, which expanded access to critical support for vulnerable youth and families impacted by COVID-19, especially older children who will soon age out of foster care or are at risk of experiencing homelessness. The provisions of the Act were included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 which passed Congress in December.
Congressman Davis was born September 6, 1941 in Parkdale, Arkansas. After receiving a B.A. in history from Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical and Normal College (now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff) in 1961, he moved to the westside of Chicago, where his still lives today. Congressman Davis subsequently earned his master’s degree respectively from Chicago State University and his doctorate from the Union Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio.
As an organization that is committed to supporting youth and families who are struggling, we appreciate Congressman Danny Davis for his ongoing advocacy on behalf of children and families in Illinois and across the country.
Visit the website of Congressman Danny Davis for more information on his life and work.