Should black Americans: (1) give 95 percent of their votes to President Carter, as they did in 1976, (2) turn political tradition upside-down and throw their support to Republican Ronald Reagan, (3) cast a protest ballot for independent John B. Anderson, or (4) stay at home in the November presidential election?
How black voters "ought to cast their ballots" will be the key to deliberations of the 10th annual Congressional Black Caucus Weekend Sept. 26-28 in Washington, D.C. No presidential candidate is scheduled to appear at any workshop or session, but they will be the major topic of discussion for the 10, 000 people expected to converge on the nation's capital.
And presidential candidates will be represented in spinoff meetings of various black organizations during the weekend.
The 1980 election is critical because "the mood of the country has changed to less concern for minorities and the poor," says Rep. Cardiss Collins (D) of Illinois, chairman of the Black Caucus.
A year ago the Black Caucus startled many weekend participants by refusing to let President Carter address its annual dinner after he had appeared at the preceding three. Congresswoman Collins and several other prominent Black Caucus members did not endorse President Carter during the Democratic primaries. (Ms. Collins has since agreed to back him.)
"Rarely have black people faced such critical decisions related to both economic and political survival as they do this year," she said.
"Our theme is the black family. We must map strategies on how this family will face inflation and unemployment on the home front; neglect from public officials, both elected and appointed, on the political front, and police brutality and judicial insensitivity on the criminal justice front."
Although 15 of the 16 black members of Congress -- 14 representatives plus the nonvoting House delegates from Washington, D.C., and the Virgin Islands -- are Democrats, the caucus will not endorse the Democratic candidate for president.
Other black organizations have scheduled meetings in conjunction with that of the Black Caucus. These include the National Balck Leadership Roundtable, the Black Religious Leadership, and the National Hookup for Black Women, and the National Association of Black Journalists.
Independent candidate Anderson will make an appearance before the black journalists, and Republican national chairman Bill Brock will apper before the group on Mr. Reagan's behalf.
The journalists group will got to the White House for a briefing session with members of the Carter administration, including Secretary of Health and Human Services Patricia Roberts Harris, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Moon Landrieu, and Louis Martin, a top black aide to the President.
A day-long series of workshops in the Rayburn House Office Building Sept. 26 will discuss black youths, health services, and international affairs in double-session seminars.
Recommendations from the National Black Agenda for the '80s, adopted last winter in Richmond, Va., will be used as the platform of the Black Caucus weekend, Delegates at the earlier meeting pinpointed getting out the black vote as the top priority in 1980, and recognized reducing unemployment, especially among black youth, as essential to economic progress.