Politics was the message, celebration the goal, but the undertone of disappointment was unmistakable.
"We're going to have some stormy and rough days ahead," Jacqueline Jackson, wife of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, told the 500 guests at the 75th anniversary Freedom Fund Dinner of the Washington chapter of the NAACP last night. "But there is a silver lining to every cloud, and you will see the rainbow at the end."
Jacqueline Jackson was at the Sheraton-Washington last night to receive the Sam Jackson Award on behalf of her husband, the former Democratic presidential hopeful , who was attending a get-out-the-vote rally in San Antonio. The award is named for the late lawyer and member of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The tributes to Jackson included songs, speeches, a recording of excerpts of his speech to the Democratic National Convention last summer, and an insistence on remaining hopeful, whatever the reservations.
"I'm not nonpartisan, nor am I nonpolitical," said Mayor Marion Barry, speaking to members of an organization that is. "There's an election on November 6th, right around the corner. If we want to continue to work and fight for civil rights, for human rights . . . it seems to me we have no choice except to go to the polls and vote for Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro.
"Even though some of us who were in the Jesse Jackson campaign are not happy with everything this team has done," he said, "we are more unhappy with what the other team has done and not done."
That combination of qualification and commitment continued.
"Many people say we were sold out at the San Francisco convention," said evening cohost Lavonia Perryman-Fairfax, as she introduced Judy Jackson, widow of Sam Jackson. "I think it has given me and many other people a new energy. We're preparing tonight for the next four years."
Political pragmatism, as popular at Washington banquets as overcooked chicken, reigned.
City Council member Jerry A. Moore, who lost the Republican primary to Carol Schwartz and is running as an independent, was there to receive the chapter's President's Award. He walked from table to table to table, shaking hands and stopping to talk as dinner was served.
"I'm looking for votes," he said lightly, but despite his tone he didn't stop circulating till he'd done each table. Barry made the rounds, too, and out-did Moore's practicality when he told a joke and looked out at the audience, which had not responded as well as he hoped.
"Give me a hand on that," he said.
Mentions of Mondale also received applause, although without the fervor that greeted every word about Jesse Jackson. The political polls, which now overwhelmingly favor the Republicans, were treated as they always are by those not pleased by them.
"Polls don't always show what is happening," said keynote speaker C. Delores Tucker, former Pennsylvania secretary of state. "The only poll that matters is the poll on Election Day."
Two months ago, Tucker and 1972 Democratic presidential candidate Shirley Chisholm founded the National Black Women's Political Caucus. It's all part of preparing for the next four years.
"We tend to look for immediate action," said Jacqueline Jackson before dinner. "The difference will come. It will evolve. I want to borrow a quote from one of my black sisters: 'I don't feel no ways tired.' I think great things are going to come."