October 17, 1970

By Johnny Bowles


Congressional Candidate Ronald V. Dellums has lashed back at Vice President Spiro T. Agnew, calling him an “irresponsible politician” who may be a “little un-American.”

The 34-year old self-proclaimed “radical” said he “welcomed the attack the Vice President made in a Fort Smith, Ark. speech in which he labeled Dellums the most radical of the “radical liberals.”

Dellums, alluding to the Vice President’s campaign in 1968, said the attack would help to make my name a household word.” Agnew, not well-known when chosen as Nixon’s running mate in ‘68, strived to make his own name a “household word.”

Ronald Dellums, a constant force for change as a prominent member of the U.S. House of Representatives and a former mayor of Oakland, California, died July 30 at the age of 82. In 1970, the AFRO wrote about Dellums’ campaign to get elected to the House of Representatives. (AFRO Archives Photo)

Dellums said he was not a political extremist, but added, if Agnew “talked about himself he probably would be more accurate.” Dellums defined a political extremist as one who “attempts to raise scapegoats and manipulates the people through demagogic tactics.”

Dellums said “that description of a political extremist suits the Vice President more than Ronald Dellums.”

Dellums, currently a member of the Berkeley City Council, defeated incumbent Jeffrey Cohelan in what was termed a landslide.

He must now face 2-year old Vietnam veteran John Healy, a Republican moderate.

Dellums said Agnew’s criticism was “an effort to move into this campaign with the full weight of the White House.”

And though he told the AFRO it was still to early to tell, Dellums felt sure he detected signs of the “solidification” of support as a result of Agnew’s attack.

In an AFRO story last week, Dellums said he was concerned that the massive black, brown and student support which helped him to win the primary, would not be forthcoming during the general election because of apathy.

Asked if he thought the Vice President would come into the area to campaign for Healy, Dellums said “that would be too good to be true.”

As for the label of “radical” which has been tagged with, both by Agnew and by Healy, Dellums said, “If it means that I want to end the war, death and destruction, then I am a radical.”

“If it means I believe in the need for a guaranteed annual wage, am opposed to corporate power and the military-industrial complex, then I am a radical.”

Dellums went on to say that he believed that if there were any relevance in political action, it must be that those in office should not just say what people want to hear, but to spread the truth.

Political figures, he said, “must play the role of educator, dissident, advocate, they must be willing to tell people what they have to know.”

Asked about Agnew charges he was a “keynote speaker” at the famed “Huey Newton Birthday Party.” Dellums explained that he read a resolution which he submitted to the Berkeley City Council, of which he is a member.

The two-part resolution asserted that Huey’s rights had been violated under the 14th Amendment because of discriminatory jury selection procedures both for the grand jury and for trial juries.

Only one member of the grand jury which handled Newton’s case, he said, was black. That person was not present for the indictment. Minorities make up forty percent of the community.

Referring to the fact that he has been declared the “number 1 target of the California Republican Committee,” Dellums said there were signs of considerable money in the campaign of his opponent, and that it was rumored that Sen. Barry Goldwater would come into the area to campaign against him.

He said he anticipated a “fear campaign” based on Agnew-like charges that he was a “radical,” insurgent black.” He said he believed most people were byond that kind of demagoguery.

But Dellums said he was not so much worried about apathy as he had been just two short weeks ago.

He had the Vice President to thank for much of that.

“Our coalition of blacks, browns, students and labor now realize that this will be a serious campaign and that we must remain mobilized until Nov. 3,” he said.

Article transcribed by Matthew Ritchie, AFRO Intern.