Urban League gathering to tackle causes of alarm' among the US blacks
Black people do not trust the Reagan administration, and they feel that their rights will be eroded by the nation's growing conservatism, say leaders of the National Urban League.Skip to next paragraph
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The league will tackel the "causes of alarm among black people" during its four- day national conference in Washington, D.C., which begins Sunday.
Vernon E. Jordan, Urban League president, listed the "key black concerns" that will be dealt with at the conference:
* The high black unemployment rate, twice that of the general population, and as high as 40 percent among black youth in some cities.
* Violence against blacks, ranging from the revived activities of the Ku Klux Klan in some areas to murders of Atlanta black children.
* The limited educational opportunities open to most blacks, in public schools and many black colleges.
* The conflict between the need to preserve and increase housing for the poor , and the increasing gentrification (return of middle class whites) to inner-city neighborhoods. The conversion of rental housing to condominiums is a related issue.
* Disintegration of black families, 49 percent of which are now headed by single parents.
There will also be workshops on strengthening black political power, energy, crime, and international affairs.
The convention's 3,000 delegates will get the White House perspective on these issues from Vice-President George Bush and six cabinet-level members of the Reagan administration.
Mr. Jordan delivers the keynote address Sunday. The tenor of his remarks is likely to harmonize with these words of his, spoken before the recent National Association for the Advancement of Colored People convention in Denver:
"I do not question President Reagan's sincerity when he said he intended to make his budget cuts equitably and to protect the truly needy. But I do question his administration's understanding of the seriousness of the blows it will deliver to America's poor people."
Both the public sector and the private sector are responsible for making the American economy work, not only for the affluent, but for the poor too, Mr. Jordan affirmed. "We don't intend to let the new administration, the new Congress, or the private sector off the hook. We insist that the assumption of power demands the assumption of responsibility. And the prime responsibility must be to improve the condition of America's disadvantage millions."
In addition to hearing key administration speakers, and conducting workshops on the issues outlined above, the National Urban League will issue two major reports on employment and the economy:
"Economic Policies and Black Progress: Myths and Realities." This is billed as a "systematic assessment of the impact of government policies on the black economy since 1950." Its author is Robert Hill, director of research for the league.
"Affirmative Action 1981," by Maudine Cooper, vice-president, Washington operations, will explore the present status and future of this often controversial policy.
Mr. Jordan hints at what these studies may report when he says:
"More black kids attend racially isolated schools today than in 1954, the year of the Brown decision [outlawing racial segregation schools]. More blacks are out of work today than were jobless back in 1963 when we marched on Washington for "jobs and freedom.'"
Among administration speakers will be United Nations Ambassador Jean Kirkpatrick, often criticized by black leaders of displaying a "lenient" attitude toward South Africa.