Blacks in GOP set agenda as 1984 elections draw near
Washington, D.C. — John Wilks is disturbed that most blacks automatically turn to the Democratic Party when it comes to politics. ''Black people should be in both parties,'' he says. ''We should be as involved with Reagan administration policies as many black elected officials are with various Democratic presidential hopefuls.''
An old-line ''lifetime Republican'' and former Eisenhower appointee, Mr. Wilks plans to act. His goal is to revitalize the National Black Republican Council, which he helped found in 1974.
The council has begun its campaign by issuing a six-point set of priorities for the 1984 presidential campaign. They include:
* Foreign policy that seeks minority enterprise in international economics.
* A reduction of health-care costs.
* Urban-enterprise zones and fair housing laws.
* Support for small minority businesses.
* Encouraging more private-sector jobs for minorities.
* Support for minority colleges and private-sector programs for minority students.
These resolutions were proposed at a recent conference of black Republicans in Washington and refined by a special council committee led by LeGree Daniels, chairman of the council. They stand firm in their belief that the Republican Party can achieve these goals better than the Democrats can.
''We are now in position to make a substantial impact on the 1984 Republican convention,'' said Mrs. Daniels as she explained the reason for the black GOP policy statement.
''Each of our resolutions will be presented to the platform committee. Our goal is to get more blacks into the Republican Party and more black votes for 1984 candidates.''
During the past summer, black Republicans appeared at major black conventions - ranging from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Urban League to church, civic, and fraternal groups. Sometimes they came as speakers, but most often they participated informally at receptions and in person-to-person conversations.
Among those waving the GOP banner were Melvin Bradley, special assistant to the President; Larry Dillard, a member of the National Republican Committee press staff; Armstrong Williams, 23-year-old special assistant in liaison to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and protege of Sen. Strom Thurmond (R) of South Carolina, former Dixiecrat; and Mrs. Daniels.
They say the fruits of their efforts include:
* President Reagan's welcome of college officials and students at a Black College Day reception at the White House Sept. 26. This topped a day with Department of Education officials, including Secretary Terrel H. Bell.
The President signed a bill that provides long-term financial assistance in helping black colleges establish endowments.
Dr. F. D. Patterson, founder of the United Negro College Fund and former president of Tuskegee Institute, says, ''I've been trying to get this endowment in the hopper for 10 years before it was signed at the White House.''
Special guests at the White House were student government leaders from the traditional black colleges.
* Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Hanford Dole, flanked by Thelma Duggin, her liaison aide, highlighed a major address last August at the National Urban League convention in New Orleans with the presentation of a $275,000 grant to the league.
Secretary Dole also showcased a parade of black appointees, in addition to Thelma Duggin. League delegates responded with a warm reception.
* Both Melvin Bradley and John Wilks say the possible run by the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson for the Democratic Party presidential nomination will help black Republicans.
''His running proves that many blacks are disenchanted with the Democratic Party as it is today,'' said Mr. Bradley in an interview. ''We can offer the Republican Party as an alternative.''