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News & Press: NASW-Michigan News

Michigan Social Workers March Across the Country

Tuesday, January 31, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Duane Breijak
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“We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families - recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.” (Vision statement,


On Saturday, January 21, 2017, millions of women, men and children joined marches across the world as part of the Women’s March on Washington. The National Association of Social Workers was proud to be a partner in the marches in Washington, D.C., Lansing, and in many cities across the country.


In Lansing, social workers played very prominent, and visible, roles throughout the day. Social workers were not just present as ralliers, but as organizers (Sarah Eisenberg), sign-language interpreters (Leslie Pertz), and as speakers (Zoe Steinfield and Rep. Stephanie Chang).  Additionally, NASW-Michigan had a table at the event and handed out over 125 rally signs, buttons, and stickers to social workers present.

Here are some Michigan’s social worker’s experiences:

  • “It was a really incredible experience for me and one I won't ever forget. Seeing so many people from so many communities committed to sticking up for each other against oppression was inspiring, and just what I needed to lift my spirits during a really troubling time. I was so grateful to have the opportunity to address the audience about the importance of cisgender allies, and what transgender people need them to do to end systematic cissexism and transphobia – and I was incredibly moved to hear the majority-cisgender audience chanting "yes, we will" in response. I know that when marginalized communities truly unite and take action to support one another, we can make it through anything, let alone the next four years.” –Zoe Steinfield (Lansing March speaker/ attendee)
  • “It's hard for me to put into words the emotions that I felt as looked into the sea of pink hats that never ended. It gave me hope. It gave me pride. I needed to know that there are people willing to stand up and fight for others. There was a strong sense of unity throughout the entire day. I am thankful that fear did not prevent me from experiencing something so powerful. I know many that wanted to come but didn't because they were fearful of the unknown. But just like the artwork from the Women's March says, "We the people are greater than fear". I believe this with all of my being. This is ultimately the reason why I took a personal stand. As a social worker I feel it is my duty to help make that message loud and clear to those that are stripping away the rights of our most vulnerable populations.” – Cherie Elahl (D.C. March Attendee)
  • “When my friends and I arrived in Washington DC on January 21st, it was full of happy, beautiful, inspirational people of all kinds of identities. The diversity was spectacular! Looking out at all of the hundreds of thousands of  people filling the National Mall, I thought about the video clips I’d seen of Martin Luther King Jr. giving his famous “I Have A Dream” speech in the same spot. It was overwhelming and breathtaking to be part of something so big. I left the march that day motivated and determined to continue the momentum of promoting civil rights in this country. This movement truly represented a movement towards social, political, and economic equality for all. Whether you reside on the right or left side of the political aisle, as social workers, this movement aims to promote many of our Core Values beyond the parameters of the field of social work, especially social justice and dignity and worth of the person.” – Chelsea Julian (D.C. March Attendee)

NASW National had over 500 individuals sign up for the March in Washington, DC before they reached the capacity that the website platform would allow. Click here to see more social work photos from around the nation and a recap from the national experience.


Additionally, NASW members had several roles in organizing the rally at Detroit Metro Airport on January 29th in response to President Trump’s executive order that restricts entry of travelers from seven majority-Muslim nations. Local social workers were involved in co-organizing the event, as well as key in securing the proper permits for the over 4,000 person crowd (the largest in DTW history).


Allan Wachendorfer, NASW-Michigan’s Director of Public Policy, supported and attended both events. “It was encouraging to see so many people come together to stand up for their rights and the rights of others. This type of action sends an important message to our policy makers, that we will not tolerate discrimination and policies that harm anyone, especially the most vulnerable.”



NASW member Fatima Salman with the Michigan Muslim Community Council at the protest Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. (Photo: Kristen Jordan Shamus/Detroit Free Press)

 Rep. Abdullah Hammoud, Rep. Brenda Lawrence, and Fatima Salman at the DTW protest




NASW Code of Ethics. 6.04 Social and Political Action


(a) Social workers should engage in social and political action that seeks to ensure that all people have equal access to the resources, employment, services, and opportunities they require to meet their basic human needs and to develop fully. Social workers should be aware of the impact of the political arena on practice and should advocate for changes in policy and legislation to improve social conditions in order to meet basic human needs and promote social justice.

(b) Social workers should act to expand choice and opportunity for all people, with special regard for vulnerable, disadvantaged, oppressed, and exploited people and groups.

(c) Social workers should promote conditions that encourage respect for cultural and social diversity within the United States and globally. Social workers should promote policies and practices that demonstrate respect for difference, support the expansion of cultural knowledge and resources, advocate for programs and institutions that demonstrate cultural competence, and promote policies that safeguard the rights of and confirm equity and social justice for all people.

(d) Social workers should act to prevent and eliminate domination of, exploitation of, and discrimination against any person, group, or class on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, or mental or physical disability.

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