In Memoriam: Millie Ruth McClelland Charles, 1923-2020


Millie Charles, the founder of the School of Social Work at Southern University in New Orleans, Louisiana, died on November 20. She was 97 years old.

A native of New Orleans, Charles enrolled at Dillard University in the city at the age of 15. She graduated in 1943. After teaching in the public schools, Charles went on to earn a master of social work degree from the University of Southern California.

After working at the Welfare, Children and Family Services Division of the City of New Orleans, Charles was recruited to start the social work program at the New Orleans campus of Southern University. She served on the faculty there for 40 years. She was also a founding member of the New Orleans Chapter of the National Association of Black Social Workers.

The National Association of Social Workers named her Social Worker of the Year in 1975. Southern University New Orleans established the Millie M. Charles Endowed Chair of Human Rights and Social Work Endowed Chair in 2008 and dedicated the Millie M. Charles School of Social Work Building in her honor in 2018.

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