The lights were darkened, the jazz, white wine and small talk flowing as Patricia Roberts Harris paid a visit to Anacostia.
"All parts of Washington feel like home to me," Harris said, as she began her 45-minute visit, smiling at people in the crowd and stopping to shake dozens of extended hands. As the people surrounded her, she answered their questions with impromptu campaign mini-speeches covering subjects from housing to unemployment in Washington.
About 150 people were in the Panorama Room of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church for a chance to see Harris, or maybe, if she walked their way, to get a chance to meet her.
Mostly working-class people--"from school custodians to administrators and a D.C. school board member"--was the way that Calvin Lockridge, the school board member, described the well-dressed gathering. Sponsored by the political action committee of an Anacostia-based black men's group called the Brothers' Brigade, it was to be, its organizers said, further affirmation that the poor and proud of "the Forgotten City" were solidly behind Harris.
"The mayor forgot the needs in Anacostia for 3 1/2 years. There hasn't been a house built, a street fixed or a job created here," said Michael Wheeler, a cochairman of the Harris campaign and a member of the Brothers' Brigade. "Now he's Barry coming looking for support here, trying to trick the people of Anacostia. But he can't fool them. They ain't dumb."
There was hardly a lapel or blouse that didn't bare a Harris button. And there was hardly a soul who didn't sing the praises of the former Carter administration official whose late arrival seemed only to heighten the crowd's appreciation.
One man, Hardy Wiggins, said he didn't come to hear what Harris had to say, that he already knows what she stands for. "And she has my vote."
A woman, Emma Bonner, said just meeting Harris was the highlight of the evening for her.
As her audience sipped wine and munched roast beef and raw vegetables, Harris assailed Marion Barry's performance as mayor, referring to him only as the incumbent. She criticized Barry's handling of crime in the city, and assailed his record on housing.