Social work students advocacy day on the Hill 2017

We who believe in freedom cannot rest
We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes

It was the perfect warm and windy day for hundreds of Social Work students to gather at Gallaudet University for a motivational morning before heading to Capitol Hill armed with bills to bring to the attention of Members of Congress.

Representative Barbara Lee, Chair on the Congressional Social Work Caucus, used her time to sing with us. As a group we sang the lyrics from Ella’s Song that carry a heavy truth that we as social workers and policy movers try to embody.

And that which touches me most is that I had a chance to work with people
Passing on to others that which was passed on to me

Following our song for justice, a legislative staffer spoke to the students. He spoke what many of those in attendance knew well, that “we must organize to ensure our representatives reflect the priorities of all of their citizens”. He emphasized the importance of leveraging our networks: “it is imperative that we as social workers engage our networks to be advocates on issues of the communities we serve”.

Not needing to clutch for power, not needing the light just to shine on me
I need to be just one in the number as we stand against tyranny

Those interested in running for Elected Office joined Tanya Rhodes Smith, Director of the Nancy A. Humphreys Institute for Political Social Work at the University of Connecticut, to discuss the real possibility of becoming an elected official.

Finally the time had come to saturate Capitol Hill with our passion for social work, for solidarity and for justice. Students visited nearly every Democratic Representative on the Hill to advocate for H.R. 1289 “The Dorothy I. Height and Whitney M. Young, Jr. Social Work Reinvestment Act” and H.R. 1290 “Improving Access to Mental Health Act”. Students also asked Members of Congress to oppose H.R. 610 “Choices in Education Act of 2017” which repeals nutritional standards for national school meal programs and creates a voucher program to divert federal funding from public schools.

I’m a woman who speaks in a voice and I must be heard
At time I can be quite difficult, I’ll bow to no man’s word

This is what democracy looks like to me: beautiful government buildings, long lines of advocates waiting to get in, and passionate young people eager to be a part of the whole process.

We who believe in freedom cannot rest
We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes

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