Black Republicans defend Reagan record 'without apology'
Cleveland — Black Republicans are evangelizing blacks to support their mission - the reelection of the Reagan-Bush ticket. ''We believe that the record of Ronald Reagan on issues is one which black Americans can support in November,'' says LeGree Daniels, national chairwoman of Black Voters for Reagan-Bush. ''The Democratic Party's message to black America is 'Let them eat promises.' ''
Mrs. Daniels lugs her traveling gear across the nation as she visits blacks - often hostile to the Reagan administration and the Republican Party - to tell them the Reagan-Bush story. This week she is at the 74th National Urban League convention here.
Her next stop is Dallas, where she will complete plans for the black role at the Republican National Convention. Black participation is ''integral'' to the Reagan-Bush campaign, she says, and the convention will provide a forum for black issues.
''We shall not be passive at the Republican National Convention in Dallas,'' Mrs. Daniels says.
Helping her are people like Claire Freeman, who says she's Republican ''without apology.''
''I've paid my dues,'' she says. Her dues - growing up in a black ghetto in Cleveland, living in impoverished Watts in Los Angeles, and working in antipoverty programs in the South Bronx. Her payoff - appointment by the President as a deputy assistant secretary of defense.
Ms. Freeman is one of 250 black Reagan appointees, Mrs. Daniels notes.
In Dallas, Mrs. Daniels will guide a three-day preconvention meeting of the National Black Republican Council. The council, which she chairs, will honor Secretary Samuel Pierce of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) , President Reagan's only black Cabinet member.
Blacks will keep tabs on the GOP convention platform, she says.
''We sent the platform committee a resolution calling for the appointment of more black judges to the federal bench,'' says Adrienne D. Bins, executive assistant to Mrs. Daniels. ''The President named two black judges earlier this month.''
At the moment, Mrs. Daniels is working to settle a problem black Republicans faced here at the National Urban League convention - atoning for what many leaguers call a snub of their conference by President Reagan.
''The failure of the White House to make either the President or the vice-president available to address an informed, national black constituency is unfortunate,'' says National Urban League chief John E. Jacob.
President Reagan sent a written message to the convention on Monday, saying that he has asked the House of Representatives to bring his proposed enterprise zone bill to the floor for a vote.
His greetings came too late for many. Delegates offered only polite applause and attended in small numbers to hear addresses by two Republicans, Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger and Rep. Jack Kemp of New York.
''Reagan got bad advice when he did not accept an invitation to address the Urban League, the most conservative of black civil-rights organizations,'' said Meldron Hollis a Democrat from Cambridge, Mass. ''He'll have to take a more aggressive stance to give legitimacy to black Republicans.''
Ms. Freeman counters by saying, ''I don't want to live my life always hanging on the outside, chunking rocks at the windows on the inside. I've discovered that black people can be on the inside, making the system work for them. They shouldn't be tied down to one party.
''That's why I am a Republican.''
Ms. Freeman says she's happy in her ''nontraditional office'' in the Pentagon , after serving three years in the presidentially appointed position of deputy assistant secretary of human planning and development in HUD.
Black Republicans at the convention issued a statement listing ''pluses'' for the Reagan administration in these areas:
Jobs. More than 1 million blacks have found work. Black unemployment has been reduced. The President also supports urban enterprise zone legislation to revitalize depressed areas in inner cities, the Job Training Partnership Act to train the ''unemployable,'' and a youth minimum-wage proposal to provide summer jobs for more than 600,000 youths.
Housing. During the Reagan administration, 500,000 families have been given HUD-assisted housing. If the President wins a second term, the number will rise to 1.2 million by 1989.
Education. The Education Department's proposed 1985 budget has been increased , with grants for local public schools and more aid to black colleges.