Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
The name Andrew Young no doubt came up more than a few times Thursday as many of the nation's black leaders joined Vice President and Mrs. Mondale for cocktails and a dinner honoring the Congressional Black Caucus at the vice president's house.
Mondale himself put in a good word for Young in the wake of the latest furor involving the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. And Pep. Parren J. Mitchell (D-Md.), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, lashed out at an attempt in the House Thursday to impeach.
Reporters, however, were not allowed to talk to any of the guests during a cocktail hour on the lawn; Mondale staffers said the affair was only a "photo opportunity." The dinner was closed to reporters and photographers.
Before the guests arrived, Mondale strolled outside and invited reporters and photographers inside the gates. Asked about Young's statement that there are "hundreds, maybe even thousands of people I would call political prisoners" in U.S. jails, Mondale said he had just read a "clarification" by Young that put his earlier remarks "in historical context . . . In that context it is more understandable."
Mondale said Young was talking about problems faced by civil rights workers in years past, and that "he did not in any way mean to equate the problems the civil rights movement had a few years ago with the treatment of (Anatoly) Scharansky" and other dissidents in the Soviet Union.
Mondale moved on to greet the guests as reporters were escorted to one side. As a band played beneath a tree, and the weather held up nicely, scores of black leaders arrived, including Coretta King; Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson; the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, director of Operation PUSH (People United to Save Humanity); Benjamin Hooks, executive director of the NAACP; Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Patricia Harris; Mayor Walter Washington; Bayard Rustin; several members of Congressl Dorothy Height, president of the National Council of Negro Women; Dr. Joseph E. Lowery, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; and, from the Carter administration, congressional liaison Frank Moore and Stuart Eizenstat, domestic affairs adviser.
One of the last to arrive was Mitchell, who was met outside the gates by reporters. Coming from a busy day on the Hill that included many statements of support for Young Mitchell called the move for impeachment - proposed by Rep. Larry McDonald (D-Ga.) - "unconscionable. There's no ground for impeachment in that."
Mitchell said the motion (which was tabled, 293 to 82) "reflects a Ku Klux Klan mentality . . . that when any black person reaches a certain point he has to be stepped on."
Asked if he agreed with Young's original statement, that there are "political prisoners" in the United States, Mitchell replied, "Of course I do." But before he could fully explain, a Mondale aide came out to hustle Mitchell away.