[PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES]. REAGAN, Ronald W. (1911-). Typed speech signed ("Ronald Reagan") and inscribed ("To Em Thanks for all your help"). "Address by the Honorable Ronald Reagan to the Annual Convention of the National Urban League, New York City, 5 August 1980." 13 pages, 4tos., rectos.
REAGAN DENOUNCES CARTER'S RACIAL AND URBAN POLICIES BEFORE THE NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE IN THE 1980 CAMPAIGN
After an opening joke about his Hollywood career, Reagan likens his speech before the National Urban League to the appearance of candidate John F. Kennedy "before a skeptical" audience of Protestant ministers in 1960 "who wanted to know whether his religious beliefs would in some way affect his conduct in our nation's highest office." Like Kennedy 20 years before, Reagan hopes to reassure and perhaps even convert his skeptical listeners. For "too many people," he says, "'conservative' has come to mean 'anti-poor, anti-black, anti-disadvantaged.'" But Reagan thinks his audience might "be surprised by our broad areas of agreement."
He challenges "the idea that black Americans are some underclass of people, who must be treated apart from the mainstream of Americans because they don't have the capabilities the rest of us have. Nothing could be further from the truth. Black Americans don't lack capability. They lack opportunity. Given adequate opportunities, black Americans can be as successful as anyone else in this country." It was the economic policies of the Democrats and the crippling recession that followed, which truly hampered the prospects of black Americans. Reagan offers a vision of general prosperity that would benefit all. "Instead of fighting over who gets the last piece of a shrinking economic pie, let's help America produce a bigger pie so that everyone will have a chance to be better off." The speech highlights many of Reagan's familiar political arguments against what he called "big gov'mint"--the need for less regulation, lower taxes, more state and local discretion with federal funds. It also shows off the rhetorical skills of the "Great Communicator": the easy, relaxed tone, the self-deprecating humor, the use of some exemplary citizen to illustrate his points, in this case Daniel James, Jr., "a hero in two wars" who "wore four stars on his shoulders and fifty stars in his heart. He was a legend. He also happened to be black."