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THE JOBLESS NEGO By ELIZABETH LAWSON WE begin with the story of Norman and Estelle Smith, young Negro couple of Harlem, New York. Their story tells, clearer than any statistics, the misery of unemployment the long-drawn-out process of starvation that is today imposed upon 17 million people in this country. It tells of the effect of starvation on little children. It shows the cruelty and indifference of the relief bureaus. It shows how the bosses, laying the burden of the crisis on the backs of the Negro workers. And it shows, finally, how the workers, Negro and white, are learning to throw aside their boss-inspired prejudices and are fighting--together--against misery and starvation. THE STORY OF NORMAN SMITH Years ago, Norman Smith, Negro painter and cabinetmaker, went from Anderson, Indiana, where he had been born, to Baltimore. Jobs were pretty scarce for Negro workers, even in those days. The union, too, refused to take him in. They didn't tell him he couldn't join--just kept him coming back, until he finally realized they didn't want him in the organization. One official, a little more outspoken than the others, said that he "didn't know about Niggers joining up". Still, he got a little work. Then he met Estelle Palmer. 2 They were married and went to New York. They thought things would be better in New York--more jobs that a Negro worker could get at. Smith took whatever he could get. He worked as fireman-porter for $70 a month, and held on to that job till April 1930. He remembers the date very exactly, because it was the last steady job he's had since. When he got laid off it was the first spring of the present crisis. If jobs had been scarce before for Negro workers, they just weren't to be found now. for the whole summer of 1930, Norman Smith didn't work at all, except for two weeks as a dishwasher at the Ward Coffee Pot. It brought him--expert craftsman that he was--just $15 week. He had to take it, for by that time, there were not only himself and Estell, but also young Norman and Lloyd. FIVE DOLLARS A WEEK FOR FOUR In May, 1930, he had to ask for help. He went to the Charity Organization Society. After a time they gave him $5 a week--for four people to live on, in New York City. In July, they cut him off altogether. About this time they were evicted from their home. Next thing, he got a job in the Bronx, through the Charity Organization Society. The job was loading lawn mowers on trucks. It wasn't long before he strained his back. When he got out of the hospital, still hurt and shaky, the Charity Society said that that showed he didn't want to work anyhow. They cut off his relief. The family moved to 53rd Street. The Charity Organization Society there gave them $3 to $5 a week for a little 3
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