Black leader Jesse L. Jackson announced plans yesterday for a summer-long campaign to put as many as 2 million more blacks on the voting rolls in about a dozen southern states, contending that "the destiny of progressive politics in the South depends on black registration."
The Jackson effort is to begin Sunday in Raleigh, with an emphasis on registering those just being graduated from high school. The following week a similar effort will begin in Alabama, a Jackson aide said.
The campaign, termed a "crusade" by Jackson, also is to focus attention on any violations of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and to pressure white southern Democrats to deliver more support to black Democrats running for office.
Jackson, president of the Chicago-based Operation PUSH, a civil rights and economic development organization, said during a luncheon speech at the National Press Club, that the outcome of his crusade will be a factor in whether he will run for president next year.
"Combined with a newly registered and alive mass black voter base, we want to form new coalitions with progressive whites, Hispanics, women, the young, peace activists, environmentalists and all those who want a more humane and civilized domestic and international public policy," he said.
"The South will be the testing ground for such a strategy," he said. "If the poor and rejected of the South, black and white, will turn to each other and not on each other, we can establish a new public policy that will benefit not only us, but the nation and the world."
Dozens of black leaders have met over the past three months to consider fielding a black national favorite-son candidate in selected Democratic presidential primaries as a means of increasing black influence. Jackson is one of the most frequently mentioned possible candidates.
The best prospect for such a candidacy lies in the South, where black voting strength is greatest.
E. Lavonia Allison, chairman of the North Carolina Black Leadership Caucus, said in a telephone interview yesterday that about half the nearly 1 million voting-age blacks in the state are not registered.