Blacks seek access to, assurances from Reagan
Boston — President-elect Ronald Reagan offers an economic program that blacks can live with, say a number of civil rights leaders after meeting with the President-elect.
But blacks still feel they need assurance of "no backward steps" in fair housing, job opportunities, and voting rights.
And they still are taking a wait-and-see attitude on a Reagan promise of access to the White House in formulating policy.
Civil rights leaders who opposed Mr. reagan almost unanimously offered him their cooperation and cautious support as they presented him a list of "key concerns." They expressed interest in giving GOP economic steps a chance.
These individuals stand in the middle as buffers between the neo-conservative blacks symbolized by Dr. Thomas Sowell of the Hoover Institute, closely identified with Reagan's economic views, and concerned Democrats, typified by Ronald Brown, who resigned from a high post in the National Urban League to campaign for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D) of Massachusetts in his unsuccessful attempt to win the Democratic presidential nomination.
More moderate in its approach than expected, a Black Leadership Forum delegation, led by Benjamin L. Hooks, offered Reagan the hand of cooperation with these words: "Job creation to bring more blacks and other minorities into the work force; increases in the number and size of minority-owned businesses; reinvigorated commercial activity in predominantly mimority communities -- these are objectives we believe we can achieve together with a general policy of economic renewal."
Mr. Hooks, executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) also had a good word for the GOP "enterprise zone" proposal for inner city economic revival, unacceptable to black leaders in the past.
"That policy would especially encourage creation of the small businesses that generate most of the private sector jobs," he said.
Emphasizing the mood of forum members -- including Vernon Jordan of the Na- tional Urban League, the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson of Operation PUSH, Dr. Joseph E. Lowery of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), M. Carl Holman of the National Urban Coalition, and Coretta Scott King, widow of Dr. Martin Luther King jr. -- Hooks cautioned:
"Even as we endorse some of the objectives you have espoused, we recognize that we may not always agree on the best means of achieving them."
The forum listed these priorities:
* Economic. Full employment in compliance with the Humphrey-Hawkins Act, maintenance of minimum wages for all workers including youth, federal funds for economic recovery, including public works and the Comprehensive Educational and Training Act (CETA) program.
* Civil rights. Extension of affirmative action, including set-asides for minority vendors, in all areas of spending federal funds; extension of voter rights beyond the South, and quality integrated education with Justice Department implementation of all laws.
* Political. Appointment of blacks to policymaking posts and federal courts including the US Supreme Court; rebuilding of cities; support of majority rule and end of apartheid in South Africa, and economic support for third world nations.
Reagan made no commitments, but he did promise that "someone high in the administration" would be available to meet with blacks when he takes office.
A more supportive view of the incoming GOP administration was offered by Dr. Sowell, who told a West Coast conference of blacks in business that Reagan looks to the future while civil rights advocates "look to the p ast."