FEBRUARY 22, 1940
GOLDEN BEACH, Fla., Wednesday—Two very interesting things have come my way lately, both of which seem worth studying. Perhaps, various communities may find them adaptable to their own particular needs. The first plan is one tried out in Williamsport, Pa., and is called: "A Plan of Jobs for Relief Clients." The cardinal principle laid down is that it is the obligation of every community to reduce its relief load. It must seek to do this by methods which will improve the condition of those in need of assistance, for the only way to arrive at a permanent solution of the relief load is to procure every employable client a job on a private payroll.
In Williamsport, they claim to have found that 70 percent of those classified as able and willing to work, are actually unskilled or possess obsolete skills. About 85 percent of these unskilled clients possess sufficient background, education and inherent ability to do skilled or semi-skilled work, so Williamsport established a re-training school.
A visitor goes to each family on relief, and the member of that family who seems most likely to profit by training is picked out, even though it might be a younger member of the family instead of the head. They try to do a good job of studying individual capacities before anyone is assigned to training in the school. The school trains for a score or more occupations, so there is leeway for change. If the first occupation is not suitable, the school permits a change. Once a person is trained, it does its best to find a job for him and then follows up his work on that job. This plan has been undertaken by the various community and welfare agencies, who cooperate in it with the public schools in their adult education program. The training usually works out at a cost of about $100 per client.
I wonder if you are as impressed as I am by this program and whether it will be tried out in any other other community?
The second thing of interest is my recent discovery of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. This organization has just celebrated its annual week with a program sponsored by the Association and carried out in its schools, churches, organizations and institutions of all kinds interested in a knowledge of the Negro race and its history.
There is nothing which gives one so much pride as to be familiar with the achievements of one's own race. There is so much today in literature and art which can give the Negro people a sense of the genius and achievment of their race, but too often their history is forgotten. I think this association will promote goodwill and respect between neighbors of different races in our own country
For the benefit of some of my friends who warned me that I could not spend any quiet days in Florida, I should record that during the past twenty-four hours I have spent many of them lying in the sun and find it very pleasant.