Eighty-five years ago, President Franklin D. Roosevelt saved American writers by creating a federal government project aimed to provide jobs for out-of-work writers during the Great Depression.
Now, writers across the U.S. are facing Depression-era unemployment levels again. So, will history repeat itself? Could another project come to pass? LA Times Critic at Large and UCLA Professor, David Kipen wrote about that very question and joined us on LA Times Today, along with an alum of UCLA that just graduated this spring, Kennedy Hill.
The Great Depression knocked all of America on its back and President Roosevelt created the program that would create American guidebooks that were also encyclopedic in their picture of America.
“The guides came out for 48 states. They were a rapturous success, they were bestsellers, and so they went back and created guides for cities around the country, and gave jobs to writers who we know today,” said David Kipen.
Today, so many writers and recent college graduates around the country are having trouble finding the jobs that they deserve, and that includes UCLA alumni, Kennedy Hill.
“When I first started at UCLA, I was first a biochemistry major but then realized it was something I was not passionate about. So, I switched to human biology and society major, which combines science and humanity. From then on, I started writing for my school paper which led to an internship with LA Magazine and CBS. Since I graduated, I have been freelancing for different sites while trying to find full-time work,” said Hill.
Because of COVID-19 and other situations full-time opportunities are not presenting themselves to recent graduates like Hill.
Because of the high rate of unemployment records due to the coronavirus pandemic, people like David Kipen have raised the possibility of bringing back the Federal Writers’ Project today.
“I have reached out to county lawmakers, local congressional representatives, and state senators and they actually got back to me. They’re on board with the program, and they’re drafting language from legislation. This seems like an idea which, again, wants to happen, and I am going to do my level best to help it along,” said Kipen.
The Federal Writers’ Project made writers go out into the world to get a full picture of their region, but that may be a bit more challenging to do today because of the coronavirus pandemic. However, Hill is using this time to take a trip to the Southwesterly states to write and explore the outdoors in a safe way.
“I’m hoping that those experiences, and just putting myself out of my comfort zone will inspire me to come up with new stories, to bring in a new point of view to what I am currently working on,” said Hill.