Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
A comfortable majority of 40,000 returned Rep. Harold Ford (D-Tenn.) to his second term as the first black congressman from Memphis since Reconstruction and there was a great celebration for it here Tuesday night. Only 40 per cent of Ford's electorate is black and Ford's easy victory showed wide acceptance by white citizens as well.
Rarely has one gathering more clearly symbolized the rise of blacks to political power from a former position of personal indignity.
The host was Federal Communications Commissioner Benjamin Hooks, who was once a city judge in Memphis whom the police commissioner of that day refused to meet on a television panel show about police treatment of blacks. He would not have trouble meeting a police commissioner now.
In the crowd of 200 at the Hooks' Argyle Terrace NW house was D.C. City Council member Marion Barry who grew up and went to college in Memphis before leaving for greener pastures. Talking with him was a Washington architect, Willie McGee, born on Beale Street, who sometimes has qualms that his talent might have ben used as a black voice in the city planning in Memphis, but who says he concluded years ago that his future was elsewhere.
One of the title girls who first integrated the Memphis schools in a period of racial antagonism was at the party: Dwania Kyles, now 21. Her younger sister, Drusheena, was once maced by police as she was fleeing from a crowd during a march just before the death of Martin Luther King.
Mike Cody, a Memphis lawyer long involved in personally risky civil rights activity in Memphis during the '60s, came up for the party. He is expected to be the next U.S. attorney for Western Tennessee.
Robert BUrke and Betty Mayo of the Carter transition team were on hand because they "thought it would be nice to have the President-elect represented."
Sitting quietly on a sofa in the front porch was the Rev. Billy Kyles still pastor of Memphis' monumental Baptist Church as he was the night he was standing on a balcony with King when King was murdered. It was to Kyle's house that King had intended to go for dinner on the fatal night.
Kyles said he was active for the Carter campaign this year and observed that a lot of water has flowed since the days his name was one of the most hated by Memphis white citizens.
"There have been great events and great changes. I would hate to think I lived my life without being part of that," he said.