19. Memorandum of Conversation1 2


  • President Ford
  • The Congressional Black Caucus Group
  • Lt. General Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

Diggs: We need to refocus our priorities on the international front. We need a better insight into Third World international politics. The lack of this government’s insight into the strategic importance of Africa was highlighted during the energy crisis. The U.S. must recognize the importance of Africa and assume a position of leadership.

Dr. Kissinger briefs you each day on two countries. So far there have been no African subjects and others things which are “peripheral.”

President: There was the feeling I had slighted Africa [in the address to the Congress] Monday. That is understandable, because Africa is really three parts—North Africa, Black Africa and Southern Africa. To treat it as a unit would have showed a lack of consciousness of Africa’s real problems. To show my sense of its importance—African Ambassadors were the second ones I met with when I took office. It wasn’t possible to cover every item in my speech. My meetings with Kissinger don’t have a structured agenda. We did talk about the Byrd Amendment. He reiterated the Administration’s support of repeal, and my press secretary did for me. Africa is discussed, but not every day, because there are many important issues which require discussion in depth.

Diggs: During your time in office, Africa will change greatly. The Portuguese colonial change will transform the character of the African situation.

I want to compliment you on the Rockefeller appointment.

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Diggs: The Byrd Amendment was pulled off the House calendar so you would have a chance to implement Horst’s statement, and the Vice President-designate will have a chance to weigh in on the issue.

Hawkins: I want to discuss economic and welfare needs. We need a poverty program, and something like the WPA for public service jobs.

President: I think public service employment is an essential tool. If you keep the DOD budget sacrosanct and cut the total, the social services must suffer. That should not happen.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, Box 5, August 21, 1974. Unclassified. The meeting was held in the Cabinet Room of the White House. The Byrd Amendment permitted the United States to import chrome from Southern Rhodesia, overcoming a United Nations Security Council Resolution establishing an embargo on trade with that country.
  2. Ford spoke to the Congressional Black Caucus about his interest in Africa.