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Hortense King McClinton, MSW

 

Pioneering Contributions
Hortense King McClinton's many professional and academic accomplishments paved the way for African American social workers in North Carolina by removing obstacles and implementing systems to ease their transition from MSW graduates to full-time workers.

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.

Career Highlights
McClinton spent nearly 45 years as a professional social worker. She started this career at the American Friends Service Committee in Philadelphia and at the renowned Wharton Centre in North Philadelphia. She was the first African American professional social worker to be employed at the Durham County Department of Social Services (DSS) and the Veteran's Administration Hospital (Durham, NC). At the hospital, the was the only African American professional on staff. She worked in the Psychiatry Department where she supervised MSW students from several universities.

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.

Biographical Data
From Oklahoma, McClinton received her bachelor's degree from Howard University in 1939 and her master's of social work from the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work in 1941. She was a member of both NASW and the National Association of Black Social Workers. At 96, she is still a powerful presence in the local human service community, her church, her sorority, the Durham Public Library, and her book clubs.

Significant Achievements and Awards
Awards named in honor of McClinton include: the Hortense K. McClinton Faculty Award from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is given by the Black Student Movement to faculty members who "teach principles both inside and outside of the classroom" and "empower students by educating them through his or her tireless commitment"; the Hortense K. McClinton Outstanding Faculty Staff Award has been given since 19781 and honors a faculty or staff member, past or present, who has made outstanding contributions to the Carolina community; and the Kappa Omicron Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority presents the annual Hortense McClinton Senior Service Award Recipient to service-minded students.

McClinton received a Legacy Award for distinguished service from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Black Faculty Staff Caucus (2009).

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