Blacks for Mondale launch new campaign
''Our goal is to bring more black delegates to the convention than Jesse Jackson.'' Mission impossible?
''NO!'' booms George Dalley, deputy campaign manager of the Mondale for President campaign.
A movement to mobilize black Democrats into a solid front for Walter F. Mondale - who leads the three-man contest for the Democratic Party's nomination for president of the United States - is beginning to step ahead.
Initiator of the Blacks for Mondale movement is Mayor Richard Arrington Jr. of Birmingham, Ala. Mayor Arrington is now serving his second two-year term as the first black mayor of the city that, during the civil rights demonstrations of the 1960s, used police dogs and water hoses to disperse crowds of black protesters.
To achieve the goal of more delegates for Mondale, Arrington has organized a series of meetings: a national session, date to be set, for blacks supporting all three Democratic candidates - Colorado Sen. Gary Hart, Jesse L. Jackson, and Mr. Mondale; a special meeting between Mondale black supporters and Jackson and his backers; and a series of Blacks for Mondale regional meetings.
Meanwhile, Jackson supporters are planning a ''rainbow coalition'' national convention in early June to write an agenda and planks for the Democratic Party platform. Spokesmen have no comment on the Blacks for Mondale movement nor on whether Jackson representatives would meet with Mondale forces.
Tempering the words of Mr. Dalley, Mayor Arrington says:
''We are spending a great deal of time on how to build a coalition we think is necessary for us to assure a Democratic victory in the November presidential election. This is not in any sense to be construed as a stop-Jesse-Jackson effort.''
Arrington was host at the first regional meeting, held April 20 for eight Southern states and the District of Columbia. This meeting attracted 22 black elected officials, business leaders, and politicians, including members of the Democratic National Committee.
Another session is scheduled Tuesday for Ohio, Maryland, Indiana, and North Carolina; time and place for a meeting of blacks in the Western states has not been determined.
Co-conveners of the meetings are Coretta Scott King, widow of the late Martin Luther King Jr., and Jesse Hill, president of the Atlanta Mutual Life Insurance Company, one of the largest black insurance firms in the United States.
Mr. Hill defined the purpose of the regional sessions:
''We would let participants know that our agenda and goals are much the same as Reverend Jackson's. We would ask them to work together for unity and togetherness or face the loss of our primary target, the defeat of Ronald Reagan for president.''
Hill, a forceful business man, says blacks send this message to Mondale:
''Show more sensitivity to the priorities expressed by black people.''
''We want black delegates to know that they are an integral part of the Mondale campaign,'' adds Dalley, the highest ranking black in the Mondale campaign. ''Blacks will be intimately involved in developing the platform and policies of the Democratic Party at its national convention in July.''
Hill says he hopes a meeting with Jackson forces will come ''very soon,'' possibly in mid-May. This is not a ''stop Jackson movement,'' reiterates Mrs. King. Mondale, she says, is a veteran civil rights warrior.
A meeting of all the Blacks for Mondale will be held sometime in June, but the site hasn't been decided, Dalley says. Doris Crenshaw, deputy field manager at Mondale headquarters, is in charge of planning the various meetings.
Jesse Jackson, though running a distant third behind Mondale and Hart, has shown an ability to capture the black vote in state primaries, apparently challenging the Mondale forces to seek black support more actively.
Before Jackson entered the race, many black elected officials and civil rights leaders urged him to stay out of the contest, saying that his campaign would take votes from Mondale.
Mayor Arrington is one of many top black politicians who have endorsed Mondale. Of the nation's leading cities, only in Birmingham have blacks favored Mondale over Jackson.
''We know that Jackson has raised the level of excitement among black voters, '' Dalley says, ''but we also know that Mondale is committed to black participation, not only in Democratic Party affairs, but in the American government.''