An early morning phone call yesterday from President Reagan to the head of the country's largest black denomination failed to soften Dr. T. J. Jemison's judgment that the Republican party "does not have the best interests of all the citizens of America at heart."
Jemison yesterday told delegates to the annual meeting of the 7 million-member National Baptist Convention here about the unexpected telephone call from Reagan.
According to Jemison, Reagan told him, " 'I want you to know that my views have been greatly distorted.' "
The president told him, Jemison continued," 'I want you to come to the White House and let me give you my views, for we are not that far apart.' He said, 'Come, let's sit together and talk about our mutual concerns.'
"You know," Jemison told the delegates, "he's a charming fellow. He almost made me take some things out of my address."
But the churchman stuck to the script of his own presidential address. "I don't believe the present administration feels the heartbeat, the desires, the concerns of black people," Jemison said.
"I don't believe our nation, under the present leadership, will move us into the mainstream of American life."
Noting that the machinery of government is "for the time being" in conservative hands, the Baton Rouge, La., minister added, "I come from the deep South where when a man says he is a conservative, we know that he's a segregationist."
The church invited both Reagan and Democratic presidential candidate Walter Mondale to address the convention here. Mondale spoke to the group yesterday. The White House said Reagan had "no plans" to appear before the annual meeting of the third largest Protestant body in the nation.