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Newspaper Page Text
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COURAGE THAT IS DESERVING OF PUBLICITY
BY JANE WHITAKER
It may be that your idea of courage and mine will differ, but I want to
pay tribute to a man I consider most courageous, Dr. Rufus White, chair
man of a commission appointed more than a year ago to investigate the
problem of the 125,000 men -who were then unemployed in this city.
The evidence of the doctor's courage was displayed at a meeting of
hoboes migratory workers men who often have not a place to sleep,
nor enough to eat simply because they cannot get work. They had assem
bled to try to find some solution of the unemployed problem.
Dr. White was asked to address them. The doctor was plainly an
tagonistic. He began by saying, he had not come there to make a speech,
but had really attended because he had been told that the hoboes intended
to attack the mayor's commission.
"And I was quite right in my surmise," the doctor said. "While I was
sitting in the rear of the room a young man came over and sat down be
side me and started telling me what he thought of that commission. When
he was through I said to him: 'I am very glad to have your opinion; I am
chairman of that commission, and
the young man wasn't phased at all.
"Every moment I have been ex
pecting someone to say something
from the platform about the same
commission, and, as my time1 is lim
ited, I am going to anticipate by mak
ing a defense of our work."
Right here, the doctor switched off
to tell the men, many of them job
less, homeless and hungry, that he
was quite in sympathy with the
working man, and, in fact, had once
worked himself before he became a
minister. He even facetiously sug
gested that he might have made a
better carpenter than a minister.
Then, referring back to his griev
ance, the anticipated attack on the
commission, the doctor said:
"Having been informed that there
were 125,000 unemployed in Chicago,
Mayor Harrison appointed a commis
sion to study the situation. We re
ceived so many letters asking us to
find jobs for people that, as, chair
man, I asked: 'What is the business
of this commission? Is it to find
"We said jobs should be found, but
this is probably not the thing we can
do best. Besides, there are scores and
scores of relief agents who ought to
look after this work. The thing for
the commission to do is to study the
reasons for people being out of work.
"We investigated labor employ
ment bureaus. We drafted a bill fash
ioned somewhat on the basis of the
great employment systems in vogue
in England, Germany, etc.
"We sent the bill to Springfield.
Gov: Dunne said he would do every
thing in his power for it I cannot say
why nothing was done. It was sent
down by the city council. Just at
that time when there ought to have
been a strong committee to lobby for
it, I was obliged to go to Panama.
No committee went down to look aft
er this bill. I think some pressure
was brought against it.
"This commission did what it
thought it was appointed to do."
And the doctor left the hall.
It seems to me that a man who has
the courage to stand up and tell hun
gry, homeless, jobless men that he
and the commission appointed by the
mayor have discharged their duty
when they looked up a few statistics,
drafted a bill for bureaus of employ
ment similar to those existing in
countries where the labor problem is
admittedly worse than ours, and sent
the bill to Springfield, where there
was opposition from the employment
bureaus that today prey on the un
employed, without anyone to see that,