Selma Icon among Inductees for Alabama Social Work Hall of Fame

Patricia Swift Blalock, who led the integration of the Selma Public Library in the 1960s, will be posthumously inducted into the Alabama Social Work Hall of Fame Friday, Sept. 22 in Tuscaloosa.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Patricia Swift Blalock, who integrated Selma’s public library in the 1960s, will be posthumously inducted into the Alabama Social Work Hall of Fame Friday, Sept. 22.

Blalock, along with four others in the 2017 class, will be honored during a ceremony at the NorthRiver Yacht Club in Tuscaloosa. The ceremony will begin at 11:30 a.m.

Blalock’s social work and advocacy career began as an assistant state supervisor for the Alabama Crippled Children’s Service, where she helped create clinics for children with birth defects and crippling illnesses, such as polio and osteomyelitis.

Upon retiring from social work in 1946, Blalock joined the Selma/Dallas County Public Library, where she spent 10 years as an assistant before becoming director and later leading the full, peaceful integration of the library in 1963, a year before the Civil Rights Act was signed into law.

“Throughout the tumultuous decades of civil unrest in Selma, she maintained the library as a place of welcome for both races, developing programs to meet the needs of Selma’s diverse population,” said Thelma Vaughan Mueller, UA associate professor emerita of social work.

Blalock served as director of the Selma library for 27 years before retiring. She later served two terms as director of the Selma and Dallas County Chamber of Commerce and helped found Selma’s performing arts center. She died in 2011 at the age of 97.

Founded by the Social Work Society at The University of Alabama School of Social Work, the Alabama Social Work Hall of Fame honors the accomplishments of some of the state’s most distinguished leaders in the field of social work.

Tickets are $25, and the public is invited to attend. Contact Liz Lary, events coordinator for the UA School of Social Work, at 205-348-5384 or

Members of the 2017 class include:

Thomas F. Cook

Thomas Cook

Cook earned his Master of Social Work  and doctorate in social work at UA. He began his career in social work in 1976 and worked at Partlow State School, University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital, Bryce State Psychiatric Facility and Children’s Hospital of Alabama, among others.

In 1984, Cook became a caseworker and counselor for Catholic Family Services in Birmingham, where he provided counseling and child welfare services for adoption and foster care. He also counseled women going through crisis pregnancy.

Cook’s work was rooted in a client-centered philosophy, said Barbara Pitts, a fellow social worker who nominated Cook.

“One saw the very heart and essence of Social Work displayed by Dr. Cook, which has earned him respect among his peers in the Social Work community,” Pitts said.

Joyce Parrish O’Neal  

O’Neal, a native of Selma, spent more than 35 years serving families through the Alabama Department of Human Resources.

Joyce O’Neal

O’Neal held positions of food stamp program supervisor in Dallas County from 1982 to 1993 and public assistance supervisor from 1977 to 1982. O’Neal became director of Perry County’s Department of Human Resources in 1993 and served in that role until 2002, when she became director of the Food Assistance Division for the Alabama Department of Human Resources. As director, she oversaw the state’s Food Assistance Program known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program,or SNAP.

“Her leadership in Alabama’s Food Assistance Program helped the program to earn over $4 million, an award to the state (from the U.S. Department of Agriculture) based on improvements in the efficiency of the program,” said Carolyn B. Lapsey, retired deputy commissioner for Children and Family Services.

O’Neal retired in 2009.

Joanne Jeffries Terrell

Joanne Terrell

Terrell retired from teaching at the UA School of Social Work and her role as a clinical supervisor at the Youth Services Institute in 2015.

At the Youth Services Institute, she was responsible for clinical supervision of therapists working with juveniles with sexually abusive behaviors and sexually reactive children. She also coordinated all aspects of treatment team responsibilities.

Terrell began teaching at UA in 1994 and is a former recipient of the “Outstanding Commitment to Teaching” award and the Buford Peace Award. Terrell developed and managed an internship in the Public Defender’s Office in Tuscaloosa where she has supervised both graduate and undergraduate students in assessment and diagnosis of substance abusers that are public defender clients.

Terrell’s work in the criminal justice system spans 30 years, many of which were spent advocating for defendants. As a litigation specialist, she assisted criminal defense attorneys by developing alternative sentencing and helping more than 100 low-income defendants receive “life in prison” instead of the death penalty, said Susan G. Barfoot, a social worker who nominated Terrell.

Catherine “Kate” Ball

Kate Ball

Ball earned her Master of Social Work at UA and served as director of social work services at DCH Northport, where she established the Social Work Service Department.

ln addition to administering this new program, Ball supervised and taught social work student interns in their field placements. She also conducted in-service education for the hospital and surrounding community to increase their knowledge of government resources and local social services that were available to the hospital patients, said Dr. Josephine Pryce, UA associate professor of social work.

Ball also served as director of the mental health outpatient programs and services for the Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center.

“She has tirelessly worked to promote the well-being of her clients and their families as well as coworkers, peers and friends,” said Donna Christian, licensed clinical social worker at the Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center.


Liz Lary, events coordinator, School of Social Work, 205-348-5384,


David Miller, UA communications, 205-348-0825,

The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.