Francis Perkins – A True Hero

Francis Perkins - A True Hero

Madeline Cummings

It is hard for recent generations to picture how different the U.S. was just a few centuries ago. The struggles everyday people faced, the harsh discrimination minorities endured, the hazardous working conditions underpaid laborers had to tolerate just so they could continue to support themselves and their families… It was the Great Depression, the 1930s, a period of time when one woman knew there needed to be a change. 

Frances Perkins witnessed the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. In a building just across the street, she heard the 146 voices of the women laborers trapped in the burning building calling out for someone to help them. Sickened by this experience, Frances Perkins knew she had to somehow help these women, so she pressured New York to pass Worker Health and Safety laws to prevent an incident like this from ever occurring again and went on to become New York’s industrial commissioner. 

“Francis Perkins is such an inspiration to women everywhere, she saw a problem in the world and fought to fix it, and leave the world a better place,” says Sophia Miranda, a freshman at Case Western. 

Inspired by her work and prominent voice, President FDR commissioned Frances to serve as his Secretary of Labor in 1933. There she was the driving force behind FDR’s New Deal Program, a package of laws designed in the 1930s to protect citizens during the trying times of the Great Depression. 

Frances Perkins was the one to end child labor, the one who established the Social Security Act, securing unemployment insurances and retirement pensions for the elderly and she created relief programs for unemployed men to work on public projects. This one woman helped save so many lives, helped aid so many families and, she is the reason America was able to make its way out of the Great Depression. 

Frances continued her position as Secretary of Labor until Roosevelt’s death in 1945. She accomplished so much in her time and left the world a better place. She represents the common American people and the struggles they endure; she saw a problem and sought to fix it and didn’t give up until she did. Frances Perkins is truly an inspiration to us all.