Urban Blacks and Election '92 Final Installment in a Six-Part Series on Minorities and the '92 Election. Civil Rights Leader Jacob Calls for $500 Billion Spending Plan to Alleviate City Woes

Article excerpt

JOHN JACOB has been president of the Urban League, an 82-year-old civil rights organization, since 1981. During that time, he has used his position as a bully pulpit to sound off on what he perceives as the United States' neglect of its inner cities and urban areas.

During the Urban League's national convention this summer in San Diego, he told the assembled delegates that, for two decades, "during Democratic and Republican administrations and Congresses, America has been trapped in a long-term trend of growing poverty and inequality."

America's racial gap has widened since the gains of the civil rights era, he said, as a changing economy has exported manufacturing jobs to countries that pay workers pennies per hour. Since 1979, "the most affluent Americans have made big gains, while 80 percent of all workers lost ground."

"Today, almost 1 of every 5 American workers is in a low-wage job. For blacks, it is 1 out of every 4, for Latinos 1 out of every 3."

Though the Los Angeles riots were a "wake up" call for America, he added, "{the country} has a long tradition ... of briefly reacting when the bitter volcano of anger erupts ... and then lapsing back into wishfully thinking that the problem has been solved."

After his speech, the Monitor asked Mr. Jacob whether the concerns he had voiced about black Americans in urban areas were being adequately addressed during the 1992 campaign. He responded with cautious praise of the Democratic Party. …