SAN FRANCISCO (Jul. 16)
The Democratic National Convention which opens here tonight is expected almost certainly to end Thursday with former Vice President Walter Mondale and Rep. Geraldine Ferraro of New York as the party’s candidates for President and Vice President.
But not as certain is whether the convention will end with any healing of the rift between Blacks and Jews that emerged from the campaign of Rev. Jesse Jackson and the anti-Semitic and anti-Israel remarks by him and particularly by one of his leading supporters, Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam.
Most observers believe that Mondale will need the support of both Jews and Blacks if he is to have any chance to defeat President Reagan in November.
There were indications of efforts on the part of some Black leaders, including Jackson, to heal the rift. But at a press conference today, Rep. Mickey Leland of Texas, chairman of the Black Caucus at the convention, said that the 934 Black delegates and alternates are not considering the problem of the rift with Jews at their meetings.
EXPLOSIVE ISSUE OF QUOTAS
The issue which has the most explosive potential for angering Jews and others is that of quotas. Jackson’s forces have proposed an amendment to the affirmative action plank in the Democratic platform which says that the party will oppose quotas “inconsistent with the principles of our country.” This implies that there are some quotas that the Democrats would support. The platform as now proposed flatly rejects quotas of any type.
There were reports yesterday that Jackson would drop the affirmative action amendment while pushing three other amendments dealing with voting rights, cuts in military spending and against first use of nuclear weapons. But Mayor Richard Hatcher of Gary, Ind., a leading Jackson supporter, said at the press conference today that Jackson has denied this claim and he and his supporters back all of his orginal amendments.
Delores Tucker, vice chairperson of the Black delegates caucus, said the 300 Black women delegates who include supporters of Jackson, Mondale and Colorado Senator Gary Hart, endorsed all four of the amendments when they met yesterday. Hatcher stressed that Jackson’s amendment does not call for quotas but seeks to establish “goals and timetables.”
But Tucker said she did not know why the Democratic Party should be opposed to quotas since its rules require that half of the delegates to the convention be women and that Blacks and other minority groups are allotted certain percentages of the offices in the Democratic Party and the convention.
The issue of quotas has divided Black and Jewish national organizations which have long been allies on other issues in the civil rights struggle.