She is largely forgotten today, but during the FDR administration Frances Perkins was one of America's most influential women, responsible for implementing programs that reshaped society and business and established the social safety net we enjoy today.
Biographer Kirsten Downey examines Perkins' life and career in a discussion of her book The Woman Behind the New Deal: The Life and Legacy of Frances Perkins - Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, and the Minimum Wage on Wednesday, August 28, 2013, at 6:30 p.m. at the Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St.
As the first female secretary of labor, Perkins capitalized on President Franklin Roosevelt's political savvy and popularity to improve the lives of America's working people while juggling her own complex family responsibilities. She was a major figure behind unemployment compensation, child labor laws, and the forty-hour work week.
As head of the Immigration Service, she fought to bring European refugees to safety in the United States. Her greatest triumph was creating Social Security.
A former reporter for the Washington Post, Downey was the lead writer of The Financial Crisis Inquiry Report about the 2008 economic meltdown. Her The Woman Behind the New Deal was named one of the best biographies of the year by the American Library Association, the Library of Congress and the Los Angeles Times Book Review. She is currently at work on a biography of Queen Isabella.
The event is co-sponsored by Wall of Women's Achievement, Greater Kansas City Women's Political Caucus, League of Women Voters, KCJCP, Operation Breakthrough, American Association of University Women, Loretto-Kansas City, KKFI 90.1 FM Community Radio, Greater Kansas City Building Trades Council, Zonta Club of KC II, MO, St.Paul's Episcopal Church, MainStream Coalition, and ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri.
Admission is free. A 6 p.m. reception precedes the event. RSVP at kclibrary.org  or call 816.701.3407.