Black leaders take up call for dialogue with Reagan
President Reagan and the nation's black leaders will confer with each other soon and often if words spoken at the recent convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) are transformed into action.Skip to next paragraph
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The President is eager to meet with black leaders to resolve issues that affect the nation's largest minority, said two of his top black appointees -- Secretary Samuel J. Pierce of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Robert Wright, associate enterprise with the Small Business Administration (SBA).
Black leaders are equally anxious to talk with the President, declared Benjamin L. Hooks, executive director of the NAACP and chairman of the Black Leadership Forum, a coalition of the nation's leading black organizations. Arrangements for a meeting are yet to be made, however.
Civil rights leaders are expected to keep up their call for dialogue with the administration during this week's 10th anniversary convention of Operation PUSH in Chicago. The effort will be renewed, doubtless, at the National Urban League convention later this month, and again at the 11th annual legislative weekend of the Congressional Black Caucus in September.
President Reagan set the stage for future meetings between his administration and leading blacks when he told the NAACP convention: "Let us talk today about the needs of the future, not the misunderstandings of the past; about new ideas, not old ones; about what must become a continuing dialogue, not a dialogue that flows only at intermittent conventions we both attend."
Reflecting on a June 23 White House meeting with Mr. Hooks and Margaret Bush Wilson, NAACP board chairman, Mr. Reagan said, "The wide range of our conversation showed that there is a great deal to be gained when we take time to share our views."
Backing President Reagan, HUD Secretary Pierce told the NAACP:
"There is an uneasiness in the black community today. There seems to have developed a fear that the Reagan administration will turn back the clock. I have heard these concersn, and I recognize how deeply they are felt. I want to work with you in finding solutions to these problems before a storm flowing between the black community on the one shore and the Reagan administration on the other. With a biblical phrase in mind, I say, 'Come let us reason together!'"
Responding, Mr. Hooks told the closing NAACP banquet:
"We are confident that we have set the stage for a meaningful dialogue with President Reagan. We are prepared to talk not only with the President, but we will talk with the vice-president, White House staff, Congress, governors, state legislators, mayors, city councilmen, education boards, county, commissioners, and leaders of business, labor, the media, and academia."
Black leadership has "a clearer vision" than white leaders "of where the nation ought to be going, both at home and abroad," Mr. Jackson told the NAACP. He is presiding over the Operation PUSH convention in Chicago, which will back the NAACP's goals for black progress:
* Extend the Voting Rights Act. This act, says the NAACP, has given blacks political clout "where they had little or none before."
* Combat inflation to help the have-nots such as the "working poor." The NAACP suggests a "zero tax bracket" of $7,400 for a family of four.
* Fight unemployment by offering better federal employment services, and support "meaningful" job training programs and affirmative action.
* Upgrade depressed inner-city communities through urban enterprise zones, suburban-city econnomic cooperation, and direct federal appropriations to "high need" citie s.