Quoting Robert Frost, Lawrence Korb told the 2,700 conferees of Blacks in Government, "We still have many miles to go before we sleep." He was applying the line of verse to the black experience.
Korb, assistant secretary of defense for manpower, reserve affairs and logistics, came to the awards banquet of the group's fifth annual Training Conference at the Sheraton Washington Hotel straight from Dulles Airport after arriving from Asia. He attended in place of Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, who couldn't be there to accept an Agency Achievement award for the Defense Department's role in promoting blacks in government. (Blacks in Government is independent of a splinter group known as the National Association of Blacks Within Goverment, which met here recently.
The audience grew silent as Korb talked about the history of blacks in government, particularly defense. During World War II, he said, "blacks had to fight a double war--they had to fight fascism abroad, discrimination at home." Korb continued, "Some of Martin Luther King's dream has been fulfilled, but certainly not enough."
The theme of BIG's four-day conference was "Think Big," and Mildred Goodman, president of the national nonprofit organization, stressed it to the audience, urging BIG members to think about what they were doing and what they were working toward.
After the banquet Goodman, joined by Elia R. Kerr (president of Federally Employed Women or FEW), talked about a coalition they are currently forming among different groups such as FEW, IMAGE (Involvement of the Mexican American in Gainful Endeavor), Asian Pacific Americans and BIG. "We have one common enemy," Goodman said, "racism and discrimination."
"The number one goal for BIG now is survival for black public servants within the federal, state and local levels. Our major goal is to hold onto the gains we've made over the last two decades."