March 4: The first female U.S. Cabinet member is sworn in and 'Surfin' USA' makes waves
MARCH 4 — On this day in 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt swore in Frances Perkins as his Secretary of Labor. She was not only the first woman to serve in a U.S. Cabinet position, she was also one of the longest-serving Roosevelt appointees (1933-1945) and the longest-serving Secretary of Labor in our history.
Ms. Perkins was a big deal in the New Deal. She was involved in the creation of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) as well as the She-She-She Camps for unemployed women. She created the Immigration and Naturalization Service and played a major role in creating the Social Security Act of 1935.
Before her government service, Frances Perkins had been a teacher, which she returned to after her work in the Roosevelt Administration. Until her death in 1965, she served as a teacher and lecturer in Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations.
In 1980, President Jimmy Carter renamed the Department of Labor building the Frances Perkins Building. In 1982, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame and, in 2015 she was named one of the 31 Icons of LGBT Month by Equality Forum.
The Beach Boys debut hit record, with songwriting credited to Brian Wilson, was released on this day in 1963. It was probably the first act of cultural appropriation that darkened my innocent farm-boy life in Eastern Washington.
I really liked the song until I discovered the music of Chuck Berry a couple of years later: “Hey! Berry’s ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’ and ‘Surfin’ USA' sounded A LOT alike."
Initially, I didn’t know who was rippin’ off who until some record store sophisticates in Spokane set me straight. Berry’s song predated the Beach Boy song by about five years. Fairly or not, I dumped the Beach Boys, embraced Chuck Berry and never looked back.
However, I take some comfort in the fact that Berry — never one to let himself be "played" — soon threatened a lawsuit. The Beach Boys manager (the Wilson Brothers dad) quickly turned the song’s copyright over to Berry’s music publisher. Berry started getting this song’s royalties in 1966. And that was that. It apparently didn't put much of a hole in the Beach Boys’ bank account.
Compare and contrast: