LEADERS OF BLACK and Hispanic organizations have just taken what they consider an important step to end friction over their roles in national policies affecting minorities. At a meeting of 24 national and congressional leaders representing both groups, concern was expressed that a failure to collaborate on their goals would leave blacks and Hispanics especially vulnerable to the ill effects of budget cuts and economic pressures. "There's been a lot of playing off of one minority against the other," said Raul Yzaguirre, president of the National Council of La Raza and one of the meeting's initiators. ". . . We're going to put an end to that."
Now, no one expects harmony and progress to emerge from one day-long meeting. But the roster of participants and the seriousness of their pledged commitment suggest this could lead to joint efforts to improve minority housing, jobs and education. M. Carl Holman, president of the National Urban Coalition, has stressed that the initial agreements this week are general. After all, he says, "We weren't here as long as the people who met at Camp David. Over and over, we had to correct each other's misinterpretations of one another." Other participants who agree on the importance of the session include Benjamin F. Hooks, executive director of the NAACP; Vernon E. Jordan Jr., president of the National Urban League; Maria B. Cerda, executive director of the Latino Institute; Dorothy Height, president of the National Council of Negro Women, Inc., Elisa Sanchez, president of the Mexican-American Women's National Association; and Eddie N. Williams, president of the Joint Center for Political Studies.
Such agreement among so diverse a group of black and Hispanic leaders is impressive, but as they point out, much persuasion will be needed to convince their constituents - the people closest to the problems - that the alliance could mean anything to them. At the very least, the effort makes more sense than continued bickering of the sort that diminishes federal and local initiatives for all minorities.