The Beginning of Poverty and Depression

Black and white photo of MLK leading a crowd of demonstrators carrying protest signs.

Anti-segregation march featuring Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., second first row from left. Photo courtesy of Athena LeTrelle / Flickr

Hello readers and Street Sense believers: Hopefully, this is your favorite writer, yours truly James Gartrell. Let me introduce to you all a new topic of homelessness struggle and civil rights to be acknowledged of inhumane neglect by some of our citizens. 

Perhaps, a little history of what I have learned by participating in GED classes is helpful to understand where I am going with this article.  

First, let’s talk about depression. In 1929 we as USA citizens had a great depression. Some of you might not be aware of it but others today will be able to recall it. Some will not be concerned or care about it at all. It was one of the great depressions that occurred during the beginning of that time and again in 1941. It has been recorded as one of the worst socio-economic disasters in American history.  

Only God knows what’s going on in the people’s minds. Millions of people were out of work and probably homeless. Again, different times. However, this mentality still exists in America as a struggle to take care of one’s self and families.  

You may be wondering why that happened, how it started. The cause of the struggles developed over a period of many years. Beginning as early as World War I, from 1914-1918 industry had picked up speed to meet the war demands. The working family members had to go into debt, meaning times were very hard and the economy was no exception. Poverty was set in motion. Rich people were rich and poor people were poor. It was segregation during that time as it is now! Farmers excluded themselves by staying away from the war and as to donate food to the average citizen. Perhaps they were pushing to grow more food.

Widespread claims that the rich were getting richer and the poor were getting poorer, by 65 percent, were rampant. But the working minority class incomes went up to 8 percent, a boom for the minority working class people. This meant wealth became lopsided. Wages weren’t keeping up with inflation and families spent most of their money taking care of debts while trying to provide basic needs. 

The economy was suited like a dressed-up clown on a stick by perhaps of speculation. On October 29, 1929, to be known as Black Tuesday, set the United States on a downward slide when the stock market crashed. 

I ask, isn’t this funny how things change? How kids growing up and perhaps peoples would change their mind of how they all think and considered of judging homelessness? And every year our laws change for the worst, trying to control our society. I observed for myself that society and the government doesn’t respect the Constitution, the Bill of Rights as degrading of the US citizens continues. These documents are known as living documents. 

Furthermore, how the economy we live with could make people of low income become homeless, in spite of how the government is ruled, is a mystery. Humans are just striving to hold onto a single goal, to survive in this wonderful place they call the “promised land,” where they have food for a while.  

People have no one to turn to, they ask for help but every time they get turned down. Every time they turn their backs. A silent voice. Which brings me back to the people and these local businesses and offices in our communities in the nation’s capital 

I can speak highly for one office business that is the 1200 Building. There are good individuals working there that show they are concerned and cared about the homeless. They have shown real love and gratitude towards humanity, especially the Daily Grill that is run by Mrs. Ebony. 

I thank them all for having me come with the surroundings with respect and honor. The way I feel about them warms my heart and gives me peace of mind. I’m so grateful for life and I’ll give my kindness back to them all. May God bless them all in this spontaneous world. 

Issues |Civil Rights|Systemic Racism

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We believe ending homelessness begins with listening to the stories of those who have experienced it.