Congressman Augustus F. Hawkins
8563 South Broadway, Suite 206
Los Angeles, California 90003



October 30, 1972

Last week I met with members of my Congressional District Advisory Committee and was again told by the group that unemployment remains the number one need of my district. This Committee, a cross section of ethnic groups i.e. Oriental, Mexican-Americans, Anglo and Black, complained that unemployment is as severe presently as it was during the mid-sixties.

A few days before this meeting I participated in Congressional hearings in Chicago and Cleveland concerned with the problem of unemployment. The overwhelming complaint of the witnesses appearing before the Special Committee on Labor was the defunding of manpower training programs, job discrimination and a serious shortage of jobs.

A frightening sense of frustration and desperation was continually present throughout the testimony. As I listened to the concerns shared, I too felt a sense of frustration and bewilderment.

Having worked legislatively for many years trying to insure full employment for all Americans, willing and able to work, its exceedingly difficult not feeling a sense of powerlessness when confronted with United States Congress' repeated failure to appropriately address itself to the unemployment problem in America. This sense of frustration is amplified

twice-fold by the fact that President Nixon last year vetoed a comprehensive public service employment bill that would have created 1,500,000 gainful public service jobs.

As Congressman of an area with 74% Blacks, 14% Chicanos, Latin Americans and many poor White, many of whom depend on public welfare, I am keenly aware of the importance of jobs, job training and anti-poverty programs to their well being. The twelve other members of the Congressional Black Caucus represent areas where the needs are similar. They too feel the agonizing frustration of diminishing jobs and the defunding of programs that successfully trained and placed minorities into gainful employment.

A spirit of hopelessness and frustration again threatens the tranquility of the black neighborhoods nationally due to soaring unemployment and the perpetual excelleration of the cost of living. Blacks are being reminded of the gloom and pain that plagued their communities prior to the mid-sixties when a few blacks were so fed up with their plight, they resorted to violent protest. Hopefully, compassion and rational planning will deter similar protest in the future.

The fact that America's welfare rolls have grown from seven million to fifteen million and that Black Americans are yet earning a third less than Whites should serve as warning to all Americans that our nation is seriously neglecting it's black unemployed citizens. Further, the economy remains on an inflationary spiral. As an example the cost of meat has risen 35% while salaries are being federally controlled and welfare checks are being reduced.


Few people are aware of the psychological destructiveness of the American Welfare System, a source of subsistance that offers the only means of survival for many Americans. The puritanical condemnation of the welfare program as providing a haven for cheats and irresponsible persons is demoralizing to welfare recipients. If the recipient is sensitive to public attitude he is soon emasculated. This is tragic and contributes immensely to the soaring human deterioration that also threatens the moral and spiritual fibre of our nation.

I am thoroughly convinced that self and national pride mature from a base of self efficiency. Unemployment, the absence of saleable job skills and dependence on a demoralizing source of income poisons the life well from which all mankind must draw.