Somehow, the party seemed rooted more in the '60s, or at least another time and place from nightmare gasoline lines and the rise of neoconservatism.
"Look, there's an old student of mine from SNCC days," said a middle-aged, nattily dressed Bayard Rustin as his arm shot suddenly out and poked a passing Marion Barry in the ribs. "In the summer of '64, Marion Barry and Martin King and the rest of us brought all those kids into the South. Remember? God, it was great. Marion was always a stalwart. Course, he was always a little more radical than I was, too."
The occassion last night was a dinner at the Capitol Hilton honoring 71-year-old Rep. Augustus Hawkins (D-Calif.), the co-sponsor of the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act. That is the legislation passed last year that, in theory anyway, would give a job to every American who wants one. Its critics say the law is a toothless lion.
Coretta Scott King was there, serene and buxom-looking, with a black shawl over one arm and a button that said JOBS NOT TALK. People kept coming up, as one nervous black woman did, to say "As long as I got this close, I just wanted to shake hands." A reporter for the Afro-American asked King if President Carter is mostly to blame for the Humphrey-Hawkins failure to get off the dime.
"Uh, that is a whole other story," she said. She didn't tell it, except to say, "If they reluctantly passed it, they aren't going to work to implement it, are they?"
Secretary of Labor Ray Marshall represented the administration. He had a 12-page speech ready in which he proclaimed that 8 million new jobs have been created since the president was elected. Marshall is a gregarious former university professor with some Texas in his talk and a split in his front teeth.
"I wish I could do this job from Austin," he said. Then he grew sad when re recalled that the last time he saw the other sponosr of the Humphrey-Hawkins bill, Sen. Hubert Humphrey, the two talked of the poor and their inability to get work. "It was one of his larger dreams, beating joblessness," Marshall said.
The guest of honor seemed to be taking the evening in stride. During the cocktail hour, he said of the testimonial helped get publicity that in turn would get one more job for one more black person, he would be satisfied. Hawkins is the senior black congressman in America.
Monsignor Aloysius J. Welsh of the National Catholic Conference for Interracial Justice made the invocation before dinner. He, too, seemed to summon the rhetoric of another decade. He prayed that "we remember the hungry and thirsty, Oh Lord, because they have no work." CAPTION: Picture 1, Wiley Branton, Jack Greenberg and Vi Curtis Hinton at party commemorating Brown decision, by Margaret Thomas - The Washington Post.; Picture 2, Rep. Augustus Hawkins, Coretta Scott King; by Joe Heiberger - The Washington Post; Picture 3, Edward Kennedy and Mrs. Peter Jay with Elizabeth Drew; by Harry Naltchayan; Picture 4, From left, Patricia Harris, Elizabeth Holtzman, Michael Blumenthal and Margaret Heckler; by Fred Sweets - The Washington Post