South Africa Trip
In July, 2008, I traveled to Durban, South Africa to co-present a poster presentation at the International Association of Schools of Social Work 34th Global Social Work Congress. Me and my colleague, Dr. Barbara Turnage, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Social Work at Arkansas State University, presented research on the topic, “Using Examples From History to Instill Social Capital into Our Youth”. Social Capital refers to the norms and networks that enable collective action; it encompasses institutions, relationships, and customs that shape the quality and quantity of a society’s social interactions.
Video excerpts from my 1919 Elaine, Arkansas Race Riot video documentary were used in the poster presentation underscoring the importance of community in social capital. Decades later, black and white residents in the Elaine, Arkansas community find it difficult to speak openly about the riot.Our research hypothesized that community problem solving could be an approach to bring Elaine residents together to begin dialogue toward reconciliation. By using this method, you bring together various, even apparently competing interests within a community to creatively resolve a particular problem that affects everyone in the community.This was a particularly poignant, historical trip for me as it was my first visit to Africa, my ancestral HOME! While in South Africa, I felt as FREE as I have ever felt! I went HOME to see my people.