The Right Rev. John Hurst Adams, speaking at the Washington Urban League dinner last night, charged that the Reagan administration "dramatizes the death of the myth that the government is our friend and we can resort to it for help.
"At best, the government was a fragile and fickle friend, but this government acts today as an adversary of the rights and entitlements of its black citizens."
Adams, presiding bishop of this area's African Methodist Episcopal Church and chairman of the Congress of National Black Churches, called on blacks to unite and help each other economically by supporting black scholars and black enterprises in his speech to the 11th annual Whitney M. Young Jr. memorial dinner attended by about 1,000 at the Sheraton Washington Hotel.
Adams led off his speech with a sarcastic story. "I was in Chicago recently and my friend parked in an only-for-handicapped parking place. When he came back, a black policeman was about to give him a ticket. My friend said, 'Am I black? Is Jane Byrne mayor of Chicago? Is President Reagan president of the United States? Brother, then I'm handicapped.' "
The crowd laughed and applauded.
Honored with awards at last night's dinner were:
* Melvin Deal, director of the African Heritage Dancers and Drummers, who has taught hundreds of black children African tribal dances and culture.
* Nancy (Bitsy) Folger, who has raised money and organized volunteer efforts on behalf of community projects.
* Judge J. Skelly Wright, who has written a series of landmark decisions at the U.S. Court of Appeals here, including the 1967 decision ordering the desegregation of Washington schools. Because Wright had a prior commitment, his award was accepted by D.C. Superior Court Judge William Thompson.
* Robert C. Larson, president of the Taubman Corp. of Troy, Mich., former chairman of the Washington Urban League board of directors and a longtime civic worker.
* Renee Poussaint, a Channel 7 anchor, who was praised for her pioneering role in television news.
Before and after the official ceremonies, there was talk of politics and the $4.6 billion jobs bill on which Congress is nearing final passage.
Betti S. Whaley, who is the first woman president of the Washington Urban League, called the jobs bill "better than no bill, but it will need creative monitoring to get the money to the people who need it."
Sterling Tucker, for 17 years head of the Washington league and a former City Council chairman, described the jobs bill as "a drop in the bucket, but it is an admission of a need."
The current City Council chairman, David Clarke, indicated he plans to give the presidential candidates a chance to meet with the council to discuss the needs of the city. "Fritz Mondale has already asked to meet with the council. I'm not talking about a debate," Clarke said, "but a series of talks."