Black common market proposed to solve minorities' financial woes
Gary, Ind. — A ''black common market'' modeled after the European Common Market is termed by some blacks as the most practical mechanism to solve the financial woes of the nation's minorities.
This stand is being taken by nearly 1,000 delegates attending the National Summit Conference on Black Economic Development and Survival, a five-day convention that began July 24.
They assess the common market idea as a practical tool to revive the nation's urban communities where most minorities live. This system would be implemented by a coalition of the nation's 210 black mayors working with 1,100 black ministers, several hundred black professionals (including lawyers, researchers, and consultants), 105 black colleges, and 50 national black organizations ranging from civil rights to social groups.
Mayor Richard G. Hatcher of Gary described the plan:
* Black mayors would form an organization to do collective purchasing of products and services. They would ''funnel a substantial number of these contracts and purchases to minority businesses, contractors, and vendors.''
* Municipal contracts would be shared on a ''division of labor'' basis. For example, a paper clips concession could go to Gary, police and fire vehicles to Detroit, and various products to other cities. He also suggested possible foreign trade deals for combined city needs, such as oil.
* A black common market development fund would be set up, originally financed by member cities. The fiscal package would also include a reconstruction finance corporation. Both agencies would lend seed and expansion money to minority entrepreneurs and possibly to some financially strapped participating cities.
Advocates for the proposal are Mayor Hatcher, who originated the plan; the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson of Operation PUSH (Peoples United to Save Humanity); congressional delegate Walter E. Fauntroy (D) of the District of Columbia, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus; and other economists and black leaders.
Delegates were sold on the proposal during an address by Jesse Jackson July 26. A pact between PUSH and the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Chicago, ending a Windy City boycott, was also announced.
The price for economic parity is high, said Mr. Jackson, who says solving economic inequities is the top priority for America's blacks. He told delegates:
''We black people are no longer satisfied to be consumers and workers only. We are free agents ready to negotiate a new understanding that would move us into management, decisionmaking, and shared wealth in the American economy.''
Immediate action on the proposal is not expected. Dorothy Height, president of the National Council of Negro Women, proposed a transition organization to develop a central concept of the common market, clarify legal complications, and organize regional and local support.
''A great risk is involved in this concept,'' she said. ''And we must develop unified support, learn what the common market is, how it works, and how it can help not only minorities, but the nation as a whole. Then we shall be able to go to work.''
Not all experts were enthusiastic about the proposal. Alvin Boutte, president of the Independence Bank of Chicago, the nation's second largest black-owned bank, warned against grandiose schemes, interminable meetings, and rhetoric.
''Economics and politics are two different systems,'' he says. ''There must be an interrelationship between the two systems. But if we want action, we must use our personal resources, put up our own money, and stop talking so much.''
Benjamin L. Hooks, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) national executive director, boosts the idea of the common market, but describes the NAACP's Fair Share program as also having high potential.
Economists and labor officials gave other ideas, such as working with the corporate structure, utilizing pension funds, and continuing government support.