"Sure, we'll go back home with all these pictures of us with him and Rosalynn, and we'll tell everybody how nice this reception was," said Lillie Jones of Seattle. "It has to be a positive influence.
Certaintly the political potential offered by 400 members representing the National Council of Negro Women, an umbrella organization covering 27 groups with 4 million women, should not have been lost on anybody yesterday as they turned up by the busload at the White House.
As has every president since Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jimmy Carter invited them over for a reception on the eve of the windup session to their 39th annual convention.
And when Carter got them into the East Room, he lost no time lobbying them to urge Congress to get a Salt II agreement before the end of the year, seek congressional support to continue sanctions against Zimbabwe-Rhodesia "until we have the electoral process well on the way" there and help pass the Equal Rights Amendment: "You have felt discrimination two ways: because you are women and because you are black."
He also used the occasion to remind them of some of his accomplishments in the 34 months he has been president. One, he said, was "a growing commitment to Africa to guarantee that racial discrimination will be wiped out and that majority rule will win."
Another, Carter continued, was appointing more black judges to the federal judiciary "than all other presidents," a strategy in the elimination of discrimination, since "they don't serve four years or eight years but a lifetime."
And there was some dentifying with the popular NCNW President Dorothy I. Height, whom he recently appointed to the President's Commission for a National Agenda for the 1980's.
They had a lot in common, he said. Both were from the South, both had mothers who were nurses, both were Baptists "and she's been your president and been reelected -- and I'm looking forward to next year."
Later, Height said Carter's remarks especially on racism and sexism were "particularly responsive to us," even though as a group the NCNW does not endorse political candidates.
She said a report issued yesterday by the Joint Center on Political Studies showed that more black women vote than black men. Black women of voting age total about 6 million.
Muzel Hall of Los Angeles said Carter "said all the things we wanted to hear -- the only thing people could find him guilty of is being Christian and a clean-cut man."
One White House insider claimed to see solid Carter support among the NCNW members, some of whom brought along their children.
"There are two or three groups out of the 27 which we'll have to cultivate," said Esther Peterson, the president's special assistant on consumer affairs, "but on the whole they'll be all right."