NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Hortense King McClinton, MSW
Many would say that securing a bachelor's degree from Howard University in 1939, followed by a master's of social work from the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work in 1941, would be reason enough to celebrate Hortense McClinton. But she proved to be "first" in many other ways.
McClinton was the first African American professional social worker to be employed in several public, private and governmental social agencies, including the Durham County Department of Social Services (DSS) and the Veteran's Administration Hospital (Durham, NC). She was also the first African American professor hired in 1966 by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, at the School of Social Work. As a trained social worker, McClinton contributed social work skills and knowledge in a field that, at the time, taught more theory than practice.
McClinton's professional competence led to changing hiring policies and a heightened acknowledgment of diversity practices. McClinton illuminated the significance of culturally competent practices and taught the skills and knowledge that social workers needed to provide services without racial and cultural bias.
She was also the first African American professor hired in 1966 by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, at the School of Social Work, where she would remain for 20 years.
McClinton's professional competence demanded that hiring policies change at the university and that direct practice approaches be tailored more appropriately to acknowledge diversity. Importantly, McClinton helped to illuminate the significance of culturally competent practices and to illustrate the skills and knowledge that social workers needed to provide services without racial and cultural bias.
Significant Achievements and Awards
McClinton received a Legacy Award for distinguished service from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Black Faculty Staff Caucus (2009).