President Carter told supporters of the Congressional Black Caucus last night that his administration already has done a lot for them, that change take time, that "we have a long way to go" and that efforts toward full employment probably would be the starting points for the task.
Flanked by author Alex Haley, United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young and caucus chairman Rep. Parren Mitchell (D-Md.), Carter said high expectations were leading to criticism of some changes that should be met with jubilation.
Noting his recently stated support for fuller home rule for the District of Columbia, Carter said, "Endorsement by presidents is not the final step. It takes the people to make change and we have a long way to go to affect human rights for all human beings."
The crowd of 3,000 attending the seventh annual Congressional Black Caucus dinner at the Washington Hilton Hotel cheered enthusiastically when Carter said that within a week to 10 days his administration expects to take final action on the proposed Humphrey-Hawkins employment bill aimed at drastically reducing the nation's unemployment rate.
About 50 to 75 District of Columbia residents waved placards at Carter saying, "Thank you, Mr. President, for bringing human rights to D.C."
Residents from around the country who attended the dinner expressed satisfaction with Carter's domestic policies. Some people said pressure on Carter must be maintained to make certain he keeps promises.
"I think he's under a lot of pressure, and that's good," humorist Dick Gregory said. "I think that with good advice he can be the most incredible President we've ever bad."
"I'm greatly impressed with Carter," said the Rev. Ralph D. Abernathy. "He has lifted the hopes of black people and poor people, but I don't think we should let him stop there."
Tony Brown, producer of a black-oriented television show in New York City, said "I think President Carter is in the process, like all other Presidents, of learning how to deal with blacks. He seems to be learning better than most."
"I really haven't had time to give Carter a lot of thought," said Bernard Jones, a St. Louis high school teacher, "so I guess he must be doing all right."
Actor Ossie Davis, who hosted the dinner, commented that news of Carter's trip to Africa later this year is very assuring.
Earlier yesterday, Vice President Walter F. Mondale sought to make peace with blacks critical of Carter's domestic policies by restating the administration's commitment to full employment, affirmative action and other social programs. Mondale spoke for 45 minutes to about 100 black civic leaders and elected officials, some of whom have contended that the administration neglects concerns of blacks.
"I know what you're talking about, and so does the President," Mondale told the group. "I hope you will work with us and push us when we need it."