Black convention scheduled for Boston despite leaders' concerns
In spite of a ''hostile racial atmosphere,'' the nation's oldest and largest civil rights -organization is going to meet in Boston this summer.
So says Benjamin L. Hooks, national executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
The city recently has witnessed inflammatory racial graffiti on the walls of some city neighborhoods, hostility toward black teachers, police, and firefighters because of court-ordered affirmitive action in public employee layoffs, and other racial incidents.
But recalling that two years ago the NAACP met in Miami Beach only six weeks after riots in Miami's Liberty City community, Mr. Hooks reflects, ''We had our largest convention in history that year. Our Boston meeting can be a catalyst to turn racial relations into a positive force in New England.''
During the 1960s, Boston earned its image as the ''Cradle of Liberty'' as its people ''marched with us, sat in with us, went to jail with us in the South,'' Mr. Hooks says. ''Today the city's reputation is not good, but we do not fear for the safety of our members here.''
Local NAACP leaders have expressed concern over recent incidents, including the finding of the body of a black man March 13 on subway tracks after he was chased by five whites and an anonymous note threatening to blow up the local NAACP office.
More than 10,000 people (including 4,000 delegates) are expected to attend the June 27 to July 2 meeting, says Mr. Hooks. He was in Boston recently to promote the event.
The NAACP national director listed the following as key topics for the convention:
* Voter registration, education, and participation. The NAACP is pushing for the extension of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It will urge black people to participate fully in the 1982 elections by voting and by seeking political office as candidates of both major parties.
* Employment. Because black unemployment is twice the national rate, jobs are basic to black progress. ''The depressing unemployment rate of black youth'' must be reduced, Hooks says.
* Upward mobility. Black people must move beyond entry-level jobs, ''even to seats on the boards of the nation's top corporations where decisions are made.''
Americans are showing ''a growing insensitivity toward black interests,'' says Hooks. He spoke of ''the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, declining interest in affirmative action,'' and a growing disinterest in civil rights issues.
''The NAACP cannot just sit around and complain about President Reagan,'' Hooks says. ''We can do something about what is happening to us.'' Hinting that administration policy may be bringing black people closer together, Hooks says NAACP membership ''is at its highest level'' since the the 1960s