Isabella Bouvard, a Bronxville High School senior and member of the Model United Nations Club, interviewed civil rights activist and diplomat Andrew Young on Jan. 25.
During their conversation, Young spoke about his experiences with racism and the realization of inequality early on. They also discussed his efforts with the Birmingham campaign of the early 1960s to desegregate public facilities in Alabama.
“He was especially forward with this topic [of racism] when talking about Birmingham, the frustration it had caused him throughout his life,” Bouvard said. “This was not only referenced on a personal level, but also geographically with housing injustice and popular opinion.”
Describing the blatant discrimination that existed economically throughout Birmingham, Young discussed how he brought about change through diplomacy and by engaging the business community. He also shared how his ideology of nonviolence was strategized through the boycott of businesses. Bouvard said she was struck by the way Young spoke calmly, describing the situation with care.
“Shifting away from the past, Young’s commentary on the current economy was absolutely striking,” Bouvard said. “There is a cost, whether physically tangible or not, to not treating people fairly.”
During her interview, Bouvard also asked Young to reflect on current events, including President Joe Biden’s election and the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. When asked about giving advice to young people, he remarked that one should follow their own path to find their purpose in life. Regarding facilitating both foreign communication and cooperation from a United Nations standpoint, Young provided an old-fashioned motto.
“You have two ears and one mouth, so listen twice as much as you talk,” he said. “You can convince more people by listening to them and asking questions then you can by telling them what you want them to do.”
Born in 1932, Young was an early leader in the civil rights movement and a close confidant of Martin Luther King Jr. He served as an executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, as well as a U.S. congressman from Georgia, United Nations ambassador and mayor of Atlanta. Since leaving office, Young has founded and served in several organizations working on issues of public policy and political lobbying.