Race advisory board recommends establishing council Panel says minorities still face 'persistent barriers'

September 18, 1998|By DALLAS MORNING NEWS

WASHINGTON -- President Clinton's advisory board on race, finding the nation in "racial transition," has mapped a course it hopes will lead to better relations and recommended a new council to monitor the progress.

While "minorities and people of color have made progress" in their quality of life, "persistent barriers to their full inclusion in American society remain," the board said in a report to be presented to the president today.

To bridge the gap, the seven-member board recommended a series of proposals, wide in scope but buttressed with few fresh initiatives.

Among the recommendations are many items already on the president's agenda: tougher civil rights enforcement, new laws against hate crimes, better schools, better jobs, even a minimum-wage increase.

The proposal for a new President's Council for One America has yet to be fully embraced by the president. "He hasn't passed on it," said White House Deputy Chief of Staff Maria Echaveste.

In its report, the board describes the racial fabric of America today as a complicated tapestry of "conflicting viewpoints."

"Americans -- whites, minorities and people of color -- hold differing views of race, seeing racial progress so differently that an outsider could easily believe that whites and most minorities and people of color see the world through different lenses," the board concluded.

Clinton launched his One America Initiative on Race in June 1997 with considerable fanfare, designating it a keystone of his second term.

And the advisory board, chaired by Dr. John Hope Franklin, a historian and professor emeritus at Duke University, embarked on a yearlong series of forums and other events, including several with the president.

But it was a bumpy ride from the beginning, with a string of miscues that drew bad reviews of the board, its staff and even its mission.

From the president's initial announcement, Native Americans complained bitterly that they were not represented on the advisory board.

In retrospect, the board's executive director, Judith Winston, said "there's no question about it," that it would have been better if a Native American were on the board. But she added the controversy had "helped heighten our sensitivity to issues involving American Indians."

Pub Date: 9/18/98

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