Kemp praises Farrakhan for stressing values Emphasis on self-reliance is termed 'wonderful'

September 10, 1996|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

WASHINGTON -- Pressing his message of inclusion to black voters, Jack Kemp has praised Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam leader, for emphasizing black self-reliance and family values.

Kemp, the Republican vice-presidential candidate, said he wished he had been invited to speak at the "Million Man March," which Farrakhan and other black leaders organized last fall in Washington.

"I'm going to set off rockets if this is taken out of context," Kemp said in an interview published on Sunday in the Boston Globe, "but I think it's interesting that in America today, in the black community, more and more black church leaders are telling men to be responsible fathers and to be respectful of their wives and women."

Kemp told the newspaper that he did not agree with all of the teachings of Farrakhan, who has made statements widely viewed as anti-Semitic, but said that his self-help philosophy was "wonderful."

Kemp is well known for his advocacy of civil rights and for promoting self-help programs in inner-city neighborhoods. In stump speeches, he frequently quotes and praises black leaders like the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson and Kweisi Mfume, the new leader of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

But his praise of Farrakhan came just days before he was set to speak in New York City before the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. His comments, no matter how mild, are likely to upset some members of the coalition.

Kemp is scheduled to address the Jewish leaders tonight and is to be followed by Vice President Al Gore.

Kemp's advocacy for civil rights and some of the policies he instituted when he was secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development from 1989 to 1992, like urban enterprise zones, have made him popular with black politicians and with some blacks in general.

Since he joined the Republican ticket last month, he has made political forays into major inner-city neighborhoods like South Central Los Angeles, the South Side of Chicago and Harlem in New York.

Pub Date: 9/10/96

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