Archive for the ‘Events’ Category
Today marks the first annual celebration of the life of Frances Perkins by the Episcopal Church, which named her a Holy Woman this year.
On her blog, Christianity for the Rest of Us, Diana Butler Bass says
I can’t imagine a more important saint to remember today. May we live in her example and renew a politics of generosity for our own day.
Frances Perkins’s local church here in Newcastle, Maine, is holding a special service this coming Sunday at 4:00 PM. The Bishop will conduct the service, the choir will sing a newly commissioned anthem, and a plaque in her honor will be unveiled in the sanctuary. Before the service, at 2:00, Donn Mitchell will speak about Frances Perkins and her Anglican colleagues, about whom he coined the phrase, “politics of generosity.”
Here is the Episcopal prayer for Frances Perkins on her feast day:
Loving God, we bless your Name for Frances Perkins, who lived out her belief that the special vocation of the laity is to conduct the secular affairs of society that all may be maintained in health and decency. Help us, following her example, to contend tirelessly for justice and for the protection of all in need, that we may be faithful followers of Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
On April 21, 2009, the Frances Perkins Center held a national launch event in the Great Hall of the Department of Labor in Washington, DC (in the Frances Perkins Building). Here’s a photo of some of our board members who attended the event standing on the plaza of the Frances Perkins Building:
For more on the Washington event, go to https://bestpossiblelife.wordpress.com/2009/04/24/frances-perkins-remembered-at-the-department-of-labor/ and http://www.francesperkinscenter.org/past.html.
[Written by Frances Perkins Center board member Sarah Peskin.]
Perkins Center board member Kirstin Downey addressed a standing room only crowd at the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston on Wednesday March 10, 2010 for a public lecture on The Woman Behind the New Deal: The Life of Frances Perkins, FDR’s Secretary of Labor and His Moral Conscience. In his introductory comments, MHS president Dennis Fiore gave a nice plug for the Center and invited our Maine contingent to identify ourselves — thus giving Barb Burt and me a chance to work the crowd later, to give out brochures, answer questions, and invite audience members to sign the guestbook and peruse our website. We set FPC bookmarks at the book signing table and they were snapped up by eager buyers who quickly exhausted the full supply of newly-released paperbacks delivered for the occasion.
Downey asked participants if they had known about Frances Perkins before coming to the lecture, and praised them for being relatively well-informed when most of the hands were raised in the affirmative. She went on to cite Perkins’s many landmark achievements, noting that FP “wasn’t looking for fame” and was more interested in getting things done than in taking credit. Reminding us that 52 million Americans now receive Social Security benefits and another 10 million unemployment compensation thanks to FP’s direct personal efforts, Downey posed the question: How did she do so much?
Other topics highlighted in the talk included Perkins’s key role in establishing the WPA which in turn created so much of the physical infrastructure (bridges, dams, tunnels, highways) that allowed the US economy to boom in the 1950s and 60s, and the Civilian Conservation Corps that made lasting improvements to state and national parks while putting young people to work in the 1930s.
Downey also spoke about her use of a collection of letters from the “brilliant young lawyer Charles Wyzanski, the department’s new solicitor of labor” describing his alarm as early as 1933 when he travelled to Germany and saw persecution of trade unionists, Jews, and intellectuals in many fields. These eyewitness reports prompted Perkins to devote considerable energies, along with other FDR advisors, to quietly easing immigration restrictions so that thousands needing refuge could enter the US. This little known but fascinating history was pieced together by Downey by following clues triggered by the Massachusetts Historical Society Wyzanski letters, several of which were displayed in a case in the lecture room for the event.
Barb and I greeted old and new friends and made several contacts worth pursuing. I was so proud to be associated with this thoughtful and well-presented event. Thanks go to Jayne Gordon of the MHS for planning and coordinating the evening. It was a great success. Kirstin spoke the next day at the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard and is scheduled to address the Organization of American Historians on April 9, 2010 in DC. Go to her website for other stops on what looks like a very tiring book tour.
This video includes remarks made after the reception and before the showing of the film at our Jan. 14th event in New York City. Speakers are Christopher Breiseth, friend of Frances Perkins, former president of the Roosevelt Institute, and advisor to the Frances Perkins Center; Brian Kennedy, friend of Frances Perkins and Chris Breiseth; Tomlin Perkins Coggeshall, chair of the board of the Frances Perkins Center; Barbara Burt, executive director of the Frances Perkins Center; Ruth Acker, president of the Women’s City Club of New York; Rob Shetterly, artist and creator of a new portrait of Frances Perkins; and Karenna Gore Schiff and Catherine Corman, discussing their film, Lighting the Way: Frances Perkins.