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FunTimes Magazine

The Alliance of Black Social Workers is Open to All

If there is such thing as anOG (Someone who has been around, old school, and is highly skilled in a particular area.) in the world of social work, it would be Vivian Drayton. The vivacious 70-year-old Philadelphia native moved up through the ranks of child welfare and management during her career and continues to work as the leader of the Philadelphia chapter of the Alliance of Black Social Workers (ABSW).

“I’ve always had an interest in why people do what they do,” Drayton said. “And after all these years, I haven’t figured it out yet!” Drayton was involved in social service work practically since the beginning of this process.

Drayton grew up in West Philadelphia and attended Overbrook High School before going on to the Community College of Philadelphia, Hahnemann Medical College (now Drexel University), and the University of Pennsylvania for her Master’s. Working at St. Christopher’s Hospital, Episcopal Community Services and even overseeing an innovative program at Graterford Prison, much of Drayton’s work has been in behavioral health, physical health and child welfare. Those experiences help her understand the tenants of ABSW.

The Philadelphia ABSW was established in 1967 after Black social workers mobilized a conference to address various issues including job discrimination and cultural insensitivity in the profession. One year later, during the National Conference on Social Welfare in California, a group of Black social workers walked out of the forum and ultimately founded the National Association of Black Social Workers.

One major accomplishment of ABSW was to establish protocol that requires organizations providing social services to have resources about cultural sensitivities.

“We’re also concerned always about the violence occurring in the community,” Drayton says. To combat it, the group has formed alliances with Black police officers and joined a public safety collaborative.

Drayton has presided over the Philadelphia ABSW since January 2018. Her priorities for the organization include writing more position papers and testifying more before government bodies regarding social services issues.

Also, says Drayton, “We have to get more young people in!”

“The ABSW membership is not limited to social workers,” Drayton noted. “If you have an interest and desire to give your best for the welfare of Black people, you can be a part of us.”

For more information:; Twitter: @abswphila1968; Phone: 215-235-1626