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Episode 238 - Samantha Fletcher: Lessons Learned from Lifelong Social Activists: Overcoming Barriers to Activism

Monday, April 23, 2018, 7:41:41 AM

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In this episode, our guest Samantha Fletcher, MSW, shares what she learned by interviewing and studying the work of lifelong social activists. She discovered how these change agents navigated a lifetime of social activism, what sustained them, and how they responded to the inevitable setbacks and barriers. The stories and lives of these committed persons provide ample insight and implications for social work practice.

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Average Rating: 5stars  engaging in social activism as a student, Monday, February 04, 2019

By Chelsea Shea :

This is a very interesting research topic and it must have been an amazing experience speaking with people who dedicated so much of their lives to social activism. As this podcast noted, change is often slow and incremental, which shows that these individuals were truly persistent and dedicated to their cause. This is also made clear by the people who endangered or even lost their lives in pursuit of social change. I think that the “cycle of activism” revealed through this study could be an extremely useful resource for students who have limited time and still want to be involved. Knowing about these specific action steps such as, talking to local politicians, participating in demonstrations, educating individuals, and keeping notes on these experiences is very helpful as it seems most students could fit at least one of these activities into their schedule. Additionally, there are several social work roles that are similar to these steps toward change such as advocate, educator, and broker. Used at the macro level of practice, these skills would be key tools for social activism. It was mentioned that one of the major causes these activists were engaged in was environmentalism. Although the social work profession highlights the need to defend our environment, it seems that there aren’t many job opportunities in this area and few skills are actually taught to social work students on this topic. This is strange to me as the status of our environment affects the well-being of every individual, and should therefore be prioritized in social work practice. I agree that providing opportunities in class to discuss social activism and our individual perceptions of it would be extremely useful and teaching more students about concrete action steps would likely increase their chances of becoming more active in their communities.

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Average Rating: 5stars  great podcast to learn about the history of activism , Wednesday, January 30, 2019

By Emily :

The ability that Ms. Fletcher had to be able to connect with activists who have truly devoted their lives to social justice for multiple decades is fascinating. Being able to reflect back on those courageous individuals reminds us why we need to keep fighting for social justice.
Over time, I hope to further grow as an activist. What really stuck with me was when Ms. Fletcher said that as social workers, we “work towards social change on multiple issues, not just one.” There are so many concerns in our society and world, and so many obstacles to tackle – it’s going to take years upon years to see through to the end of some of these issues, or even to simply see progress. Despite our current struggles as a society, there are so many groups of people and oppressed populations, along with allies, who are standing up and finding their voice to fight for social change. When we begin to feel overwhelmed, the perspective of reflecting back on individuals who are in their eighties or older who have not only devoted their life to social justice, but who still are, it gives us the bigger picture to look at. To know that those who stood before us knew that they were putting their life in danger and still fighting for their beliefs, truly believing that was their purpose in life is so empowering to people who currently feel that way as they get into activism.
To know that fighting for social justice is who you are, in itself is powerful. The cycle of activism and knowing that each demonstration or event was thought out, practical, and that each individual was prepared for it, makes a lot of sense. By coming together and uniting as a community, there not only is strength in numbers, but if someone starts to lose sight of the horizon, others are there to remind them of what’s ahead. The goal is to give oppressed populations a voice and the same human rights that everyone else deserves, and I don’t think that social workers should stop until we get there.

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DISCLAIMER: The content shared by the presenter(s) and/or interviewer(s) of each podcast is their own and not necessarily representative of any views, research, or practice from the UB School of Social Work or the inSocialWork® podcast series.