Mit Joyner’s voice will continue to be heard. She was a passionate advocate for social justice and a superlative steward of the social work profession, holding many national and international leadership positions along with her academic responsibilities. I first got to know her when she met with former Congressman Ed Towns shortly after we created the Congressional Social Work Caucus. She was there in her role as President of the Council on Social Work Education to pledge her support. When Towns retired, she was the first person to join the board of directors of the newly formed Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy (CRISP), helping to organize the first Social Work Day on the Hill and Student Advocacy Day. We were never close confidants. She was more like a sister to me. She was there when I called on her, and I would respond when needed. Like my siblings, we did not always see eye-to-eye but always had love and respect.
When I got the call from Chad Lassiter notifying me of her passing, I was shocked and saddened. I had known about her illness but did not know how serious it was until Marla Blunt-Carter informed me that she was not doing well during our participation in CSWE’s inaugural Research, Policy, and Practice Student Summit on June 28th. One is never prepared to learn about the passing of someone you care about. I last saw Mit at NASW’s Open Forum on Reproductive Rights & Social Justice during their National Conference in June last year. She was her usual feisty self, leading social justice songs and energizing the crowd. That is the Mit I will remember.
After getting the news, I called Ed Towns to let him know. He had not heard. Though saddened, we shared personal remembrances about our encounters with Mit and the very unique and special person she was. He asked me to include the following statement: “Mit Joyner was a living example of what social workers should be about and what they should do. Her theory was that if I can help somebody, my living is not in vain. So, rest in peace, Mit. You’ve done your job, and you’ve done it well.” On behalf of the Board of Directors of CRISP and the Social Work Democracy Project, we express our deepest sympathy to Mit Joyner’s family, her many friends and colleagues, and the thousands of people whose lives were made better through their association with a consequential social worker. You can get information about the service and leave messages of condolences on the Legacy Website.