Jesse's coattails could help some black candidates
Boston — The political timer says, ''Ready, get set, . . .'' And a chorus of black voices in Boston will shout, ''Go!'' to Jesse L. Jackson Thursday when he announces his bid for the Democratic Party nomination for president.
A Jackson drive could spur local blacks to vote for Melvin H. King for mayor, especially those in the 19-24 age group, say some leaders. Mr. King, a former state legislator, seeks to become the first black mayor of Boston in a Nov. 15 runoff against Raymond L. Flynn, a city councilor and former state legislator. Mr. Flynn is currently ahead in the polls, although King has recently gained ground.
During the mid-1970s school desegregation crisis in Boston, King was in favor of busing, and Flynn was against. With Jesse Jackson running for the presidency, perhaps bringing out more minority voters, the issue of race could surface in the mayoral race, say some black leaders.
Black ministers of Boston are poised to support Mr. Jackson. And so are other black leaders, including Henry F. Owens III, president of the local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The NAACP officially opposes any black candidate for president. But, says Mr. Owens, ''I don't care what the national office says, I think it's fantastic that Jesse is actually entering the presidential sweepstakes.
''And his running has to inspire more blacks as well as whites to vote for Mel King for mayor. King's success in our local primaries could be telling the whole nation something. A black person who's qualified can attract white voters and win public office even in a city like Boston.''
Boston is 22.4 percent black, and King drew 29 percent of the total primary vote Oct. 18 in a field of eight candidates.
A Jackson candidacy will motivate young black voters, says state Rep. Saundra Graham, Cambridge city councilor and former head of the Massachusetts Legislative Black Caucus. ''His race could be tied to local races this year and next, races that could put blacks into the heart of the political arena,'' she says.
''Now is the time for a black man to run for president of the United States, '' says the Rev. Bruce Wall, leader of a voter registration drive here. ''And this could mean more votes for Mel King.''
The Rev. Charles Stith is flying to Washington Thursday to see Jackson declare his candidacy. His Union United Methodist Church in Boston has been the scene of a number of political rallies for both King and Jackson. ''I expect to be part of a national drive by the clergy to support Rev. Jackson,'' he says.
The local Black Political Task Force has to ''assess the Jackson candidacy,'' says president Ricardo Millette.