By A. Scott Walton
Special to the NNPA from The Atlanta Voice
ATLANTA–Spelman College closed out Black History Month on a high note last week when a capacity crowd filled the school’s Sisters Chapel for “A Conversation With Andrew Young.”
Following his introduction–a litany of leadership roles as a civil rights activist, U.S. congressman, local politician, and U.S. Ambassador–Young settled into a candid conversation with Spelman President Beverly Tatum about the life experiences that molded him, and the global developments he finds alternately “scary” and “encouraging.”
Early on, Young infused a sense of levity to the appearance by dispelling certain notions about being victimized by law enforcement officers during protest marches he helped lead five decades ago.
“People see (historic film footage of) the dogs and the fire hoses,” Young quipped, “but on a hot day during a march, you would take it.”
He also made light of the fact that, if he had not been an unemployed husband with children to feed, he might never have moved south to pastor churches.
And, he spoke of his hesitance to launch a mayoral bid because, at the time, he had three children in college, “and the mayor’s pay was only $50,000 a year.” But, things worked out, he said.
In more serious moments, Young expressed concerns about the recent upheaval in nations in northern Africa, the lapsed sense among some parents to bolster their kids’ education, the lack of realization of how rich in resources and morally underserved southern Africa remain, and how a culture of entitlement hinders President Barack Obama’s administration.
“The only person around the president whose parents had a job is his wife,” Young said.
But, he also offered reassurance that Obama’s multi-cultural makes him uniquely qualified to deal with the world’s challenges.
Young spoke at length about his newfound fascination with global finance; stressing that a stabilized South Africa could have unfathomable potential.
And he deflected hearty applause over his just-announced Emmy Award for Lifetime Achievement, flashing the charisma first captured when he hosted the New York talk show “Look Up and Live” in the early 1960s and endures through his current “Andrew Young Presents…” documentary series.
“Through the series, I’ve just been trying to get people to see that, in Africa, there lies the hope for humankind,” Young said.