President Franklin Roosevelt appointed Frances Perkins Secretary of Labor in 1933 during the greatest economic crisis in American history -- the Great Depression. At that time, women weren't supposed to have careers, be outspoken, or be powerful. But that did not stop Frances Perkins.
With her familiar tricorn hat planted firmly on her head, Perkins prodded, pressured, and persuaded businessmen, labor leaders, and politicians to respond to the needs of the American people and end child labor, establish safer working conditions, fairer wages, reasonable working hours, unemployment insurance, and Social Security. Dedicated, disciplined, often controversial, Frances Perkins exerted a far-ranging influence on twentieth-century America. To accomplish things, she said, ''You just can't be afraid.''