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Social Worker Fought for Justice in South Africa

Nelson Mandela and social worker and Congressman Ron Dellums. Photo courtesy of

Nelson Mandela and social worker and Congressman Ron Dellums. Photo courtesy of

In the light of the death of Nelson Mandela on Thursday it is important to remember that social worker and politician Ronald Dellums fought for Mandela’s release from prison and the end of the racist apartheid system in South Africa.

Dellums, MSW, represented California’s Oakland Congressional district from 1970-98. This CNN article on Mandela’s impact on American activism noted that Dellums in 1986 introduced legislation calling for a trade embargo against South Africa and for U.S. companies to divest from that nation.

President Ronald Reagan vetoed Dellum’s bill but Congress overturned that veto.

Thanks partly to such international and economic pressure against South Africa, Mandela was released from prison in 1990 and began working to racially integrate South African society. He also elected South Africa’s president.

Dellums, who is a National Association of Social Workers Pioneer, is an example of how social workers have fought injustice in South Africa and around the world.

You can read the NASW’s statement on the passage of Nelson Mandela at the NASW Media Room. Social workers are also involved in international affairs, helping address social issues such as discrimination and poverty. To learn more visit the National Association of Social Workers International website.



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