Jackson stumps for black vote, not presidency
The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson left Atlanta and hundreds of admirers at the end of the Operation PUSH convention to go to Mississippi and help boost black voter turnout in today's election there.
But Mr. Jackson did not say he would run for president of the United States, as he presided over the 12th annual convention of Operation PUSH (People United to Serve Humanity).
A fiery preacher and a fervent advocate of upward mobility for black people ''from the poor house to the White House,'' Jackson resisted the rallying cry of the convention.
''Run, Jesse, run,'' rumbled his audiences - whether they were PUSH members or even Democratic presidential hopefuls at the convention's political round table.
Former Vice-President Walter F. Mondale, Sen. Alan Cranston of California, and Sen. Ernest F. Hollings of South Carolina all waved the Jackson banner and credo.
They spoke out for voting rights, affirmative action, and economic parity for minorities. Each pledged himself to inviting the best-qualified running mate, black, white, Hispanic, male or female, if he wins the party's nomination.
And each one said ''run, Jesse, run,'' as Mr. Jackson sat on the platform.
Mr. Jackson closed the convention with challenges to 1,000 delegates to return home and take these actions:
* Encourage minorities to register and vote. He took a delegation to Mississippi to join other civil rights leaders as they conduct an intensive drive to get blacks to the polls.
* Support black economic development. He said the PUSH ''fair trade'' effort has reached $1.5 billion in agreements with Fortune 500 corporations to do business with black firms and to hire blacks at every level. He also formed a fair-trade round table to ensure implementation of these agreements.
* Support the idea of the proposed Rainbow Coalition of minorities, women, and peace advocates. The coalition will aim to change the political direction of both major parties, Jackson said. Two national Hispanic groups declared their support of the coalition.
* Continue the fight for civil rights on the traditional issues of housing, crime prevention, employment, and political power.
The convention appeared unanimous in its support of Jackson as a presidential candidate, although a black pollster, Harry. L. Ross of Atlanta, told a press conference that Jackson will not run in 1984. Black people have not marshaled the necessary forces to mount ''a unified campaign'' behind the PUSH leader, Mr. Ross said. He added, however, that this does not foreclose some other black from running either as a Democrat or an independent in 1984.
Mr. Jackson's PUSH support ranges from businessmen to voters on the street. Alvin J. Boutte, president of Chicago's largest black bank, Independence National, said, ''Blacks are in a political revolution. It makes sense to tell Jesse that we black businessmen are ready to support him financially if he steps out to run.''
A mother, Annette Alexander of Atlanta, who participated in the convention with her children, said: ''America is drowning. It needs a man like Reverend Jackson to rescue it. He is the right man. My children and I support him because we think he can win.''