Blacks who backed Dukakis from start set election agenda
Black voters can maintain their loyalty to the Rev. Jesse Jackson, yet cast their votes for Gov. Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts for president in the November general elections, say black Democrats who support the governor in his campaign for president. Over the Memorial Day holiday, more than 100 of them held a two-day, closed-door conference in Boston. Key convenors were Joseph Warren, the power behind a voluntary group of black Democrats pledged to support Mr. Dukakis, and Ernest (Dutch) Morial, former mayor of New Orleans and a member of the Democratic National Committee.
Both said in interviews that the meeting was called to assure black involvement in all phases of the presidential campaign against Vice-President George Bush, the apparent Republican candidate, and to make sure that Dukakis does not ignore the Rev. Mr. Jackson or black issues.
``We want Michael [Dukakis] to know that he has the backing of a cadre of blacks who were with him before bandwagon time,'' said Dr. Warren, an administrator at Northeastern University in Boston. ``We also want him to avoid the pitfalls that caused many blacks to stay home on election day 1984.''
``Now is the time for Dukakis to expand the core of his campaign from New England and the Northeast to cover the whole nation,'' explained Mr. Morial. ``Discussing issues with blacks is a vital step in that direction. We Southern blacks feel that we have concerns that may be of no special interest to blacks in New England.''
Dukakis ``covered the waterfront of black issues,'' said Warren, who became a Dukakis admirer in 1975 when he was elected to his first term as governor.
``He related to our key issues - decent housing, affirmative action, universal health care, job training, crime reduction, and drug abuse in the black community,'' Warren said.
Conference participants, including 57 from outside New England, proposed:
Full black and minority involvement in the presidential campaign, both in paid and volunteer positions at all levels of operation. This implies black participation in three phases: pre-convention, post-convention, and post-election - including representation on the presidential transition team if Dukakis is elected.
Recruitment of black workers and staff members of the Jesse Jackson '88 campaign and other Democratic aspirants.
Newly hired as assistant field director of the Dukakis campaign is Donna Brazile of New Orleans, who was field director for the Gephardt campaign and field director for the 1984 Jackson drive.
Scheduling of conferences of black Democrats across the nation, both regional and state.
An all-out effort to get blacks to register and to vote.
Dukakis said that Jackson will play a ``major role'' in both the convention and the campaign, but he did not specify what he wants Jackson to do. Nor did he mention Jackson for vice-president.
Dukakis said he will go all-out for black support. He is scheduled to address the convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People July 9-12 in Detroit.
``Our goal is to bring black expertise into the campaign, to involve successful blacks from all walks of life,'' said Morial, who last summer called a meeting of southern black Democrats in New Orleans. ``Most of us supported Jackson, but we left ourselves the option of backing an alternative. To me Dukakis is impressive.''