Excerpt for Essay
In 1976, Congress considered a Full Employment and Balanced
Growth Act. The subcommittee on employment, poverty and migratory labor, of the
committee on labor and public welfare met in order to investigate the possibility of
establishing a national policy and procedure for a guarantee to all able adult Americans
the availability of useful and rewarding employment. Many people testified before the
committee when it met on May 14, 17, 18 and 19, 1976. One of those who testified was
founder and co-chair of the Full Employment Action Council, Coretta Scott King, then
widowed spouse of Martin Luther King, Jr. An excerpt of Mrs. King’s testimony is
Statement of Coretta King, CoChairman [sic],
Full Employment Action Council, Washington, DC
: “. . . I am certainly honored to have been invited
to testify on behalf of the Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act of 1976. As co-
chairman (sic) of the Full Employment Action Council, I am going to read my testimony,
but I also have some recommendations to the bill as a supplement that I would like to
: We will be pleased to incorporate that with your statement. It will be
: Thank you.
It probably requires someone who is black to fully comprehend the helplessness,
lonliness, and anxieties of the unemployed. It requires a black, because blacks are more
than merely deprived. They are consciously and deliberately ignored as much as possible
by the larger society.
For so long, being black was to be invisible.
With the same design great effort is made to hide the unemployed; to erase them from
visibility and to blank out the constricted lives they live. The chilling resemblance of the
dimly seen unemployed to the leper colonies of the Dark Ages is not too extreme an
A very intense campaign has been underway to establish that no one really cares about
unemployment. It is contended that only inflation engenders concern and fear. After all, it
is said, 92.5 percent are employed and only 7.5 percent are unemployed.
It does sound small when put in these bland, cold terms, and there are no cries of
anguish to disturb the sleep of the vast majority. But now put it another way: 7, 003,000
people – mostly adults – are without jobs. True, they eat – but not too much; they have
some sort of shelter; some even have health care. But many, including children, are in
chronic ill health, or are ill nourished, and living a life of punishment and systematic
abuse as if they had done some evil to this Nation.
Psychologically, they are mauled even more terribly. Because they are what the English
call “redundant,” they are struck with the sledgehammer of inferiority. To be deprived is
bad, but to be deprived among the secure and privileged is far worse.
At least 20 million Americans are afflicted with this tragic, crippling disease for which