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Eugene Kinckle Jones

The National Urban League and Black Social Work, 1910-1940

Felix L. Armfield

Publication Year: 2011

A leading African American intellectual of the early twentieth century, Eugene Kinckle Jones (1885-1954) was instrumental in professionalizing black social work in America. In his role as executive secretary of the National Urban League, Jones worked closely with social reformers who advocated on behalf of African Americans and against racial discrimination in the United States. Coinciding with the Great Migration of African Americans to northern urban centers, Jones's activities on behalf of the Urban League included campaigning for equal hiring practices, advocating for the inclusion of black workers in labor unions, and promoting the importance of vocational training and social work for members of the black community._x000B__x000B_Drawing on rich interviews with Jones's colleagues and associates, as well as recently opened family and Urban League papers, Felix L. Armfield freshly examines the growth of African American communities and the new roles played by social workers. In calling attention to the need for black social workers in the midst of the Great Migration, Jones and his colleagues sought to address problems stemming from race and class conflicts from within the community. This book blends the biography of a significant black leader with an in-depth discussion of the roles of black institutions and organizations to study the evolution of African American life immediately before the civil rights era.

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

This work would not have been possible had my mentor Darlene Clark Hine not insisted that I look at the papers of the National Urban League. I approached this project with some reluctance and did not understand all that Professor Hine was expecting of it. I suppose she forgave my graduate-student innocence. ...

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pp. 1-6

This book examines the life and work of Eugene Kinckle Jones (1885–1954), along with the rise of professional black social workers within the larger context of social work and its professionalization. In 1971, Guichard Parris and Lester Brooks published the first major history of the National Urban League (NUL), ...

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1. From Richmond to Ithaca

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pp. 7-22

Eugene Kinckle Jones was born on July 30, 1885, to Joseph Endom Jones (1850–1922) and Rosa Daniel Kinckle Jones (1857–1931) of Richmond, Virginia. His parents were natives of Lynchburg, Virginia. Joseph Jones was born a slave in 1850.1 The Jones family traces its lineage to Sicily Jones, the slave of Maurice Langhorne. ...

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2. Building Alliances

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pp. 23-35

Social work was going through a professional transformation by the 1920s. In 1915, Abraham Flexner, a representative of the Carnegie Foundation, informed social workers that they were not professionals due to their field’s lack of a scientific methodology: “It lacks specificity of aim; social workers need to be well informed, well balanced, tactful, judicious, ...

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3. An Era of National Conflict and Cooperation

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pp. 36-49

The 1920s and 1930s proved to be busy for Jones, as his schedule kept him quite mobile. As the national spokesperson for the NUL, he found his duties ever expanding. The 1920s were a decade of constantly changing climates—politically, socially, and economically—for African Americans throughout American society. ...

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4. Between New York and Washington

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pp. 50-63

The late 1920s ushered in a new day in national reform policies, and Eugene Kinckle Jones had proven himself as a progressive reformer. This chapter will closely examine his fund-raising activities, his relations with white philanthropists, and his position within the Department of Commerce during the New Deal. ...

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5. Changing of the Guard

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pp. 64-78

As Jones returned to New York to resume his full-time position as executive secretary of the NUL, a changing climate was emerging within the social-work profession. Jones arrived in 1937 and began to engage directly in providing social-work services for black people. Major changes within the social-work profession, ...

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pp. 79-82

Eugene Kinckle Jones was born in racially polarized Richmond into a comfortable middle-class black family. Both of his college-educated parents were noted residents of the city. Jones grew to maturity during a period in American history in which the federal government no longer had an expressed interest in securing full citizenship rights for its black citizens. ...


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pp. 96-101


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pp. 83-100


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pp. 101-114


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pp. 115-116

About the Author, Production Notes, Back Cover

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pp. 136-138

E-ISBN-13: 9780252093623
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252036583

Page Count: 136
Publication Year: 2011