Lorenzo Traylor

1914 – 2001

Inspirational leader and advocate for civil rights and justice

Lorenzo “Gip” Traylor was a respected and powerful leader in the development of the social work profession in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s. He was a strong advocate for justice and fairness for the poor and for programs and policies that could reduce poverty. Growing up in Atlanta where he attended segregated schools, Traylor excelled as a gifted student. He completed his degree at Tennessee State and earned an MSW from the University of Denver and a Master’s in Vocational Guidance.

Active in the National Association of Social Workers throughout his social work career, he was the second African American and the first Californian to be elected president of the National Association. He served in that office from 1973 to 1975. During his presidency he worked for a more open organization and for increased social work influence on federal social policy. Before being elected national president he served on a number of national NASW committees, was president of the California Council of Chapters, and President of the Los Angeles Chapter 1963-1964.

In the 1960’s Traylor provided significant leadership in poverty and delinquency prevention programs in Los Angeles. He helped to implement the Youth Opportunities Board Program under the auspices of President Kennedy’s Committee of Juvenile Delinquency and Youth Crime. He also served as the first Director of the South Central Youth Opportunity Project, an early joint powers program funded by the Labor Department. In 1966 he became the Director of the Los Angeles Regional office of the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission.

In his efforts to move the profession towards issues of justice, he was an active leader in the NAACP serving as President of the Pasadena branch in 1964 and was recognized in 1973 by the Atlanta NAACP for outstanding achievements in community service.

Traylor was a warm, personal and bright human being who was respected as a friend of the underprivileged and the persecuted, and a man who possessed a compassionate, humane philosophy.

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