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Andrew Young Interviewee: Atlanta, Georgia, 1980 July 7 [Box 138, Item 12, Side 1]
Dent, Thomas C.
Young discusses leaving Thomasville, Georgia to go to the NCC (National Council of Churches); his work for the NCC; international travel with the World Council of Churches, including refugee camps in Austria, the challenges of Bible study in East Berlin, and meeting leaders of the African Liberation Movement. Young and Dent discuss violence in the Civil Rights Movement and its effect on progress.
00:00 – Tom Dent interviews Andrew Young. Young talks about his invitation to come to the National Council of Churches. Young went to Lakeland, Florida to a conference of the United Christian Youth Movement. At the time, he was disillusioned with the middle class. In Thomasville, Young felt the end result was that black people wanted to become middle class. They took kids to visit colleges. He realized none of those kids would be coming back to Thomasville. 02:20 – The interracial movement was moving along rapidly. Don Newby had become the Director of the Department of Youth Work at the National Council of Churches (NCC) and there was a vacancy for Associate Director. Young was invited to come to New York to fill the role and help the churches integrate. He would be involved with working with mostly white youth, a shift from his work in the South. Young felt the importance of a generation of whites with training and understanding of the interracial situation. 04:30 – He and Jean decided to accept and go to New York for about five years (no more than six, no less than four) because they felt their future was in the South. Jean was pregnant. The new minister was ready to take over, so they had to move out of the house in Thomasville two weeks after his daughter Lisa was born. Jean went to New Orleans while Young looked for a house. 06:07 – Wilson Cheek, Director of the Department of Adult Work, found them a house in St. Albans. They borrowed from his parents. As African Americans, they had difficulty getting a loan approved, even though it was an integrated neighborhood. Cheek went with him and assisted them in getting the loan. 08:00 – The people he worked with at the NCC were some of his closest friends. Al Cox and John Wood, along with Cheek and Newby, worked for a ministry relevant to youth. White students were becoming integrated at this time. Norman Mailer wrote “The White Negro” about this time. Young wrote articles and gave lectures on jazz and other topics youth was now interested in. It was also an introduction to television. Young became the chairman of the protestant portion of the program Look Up and Live. 12:15 – His job was to coordinate the youth activities of thirty-four protestant denominations. He was in charge of curriculum and program development and training leadership. He ran a series of eight regional conferences every summer, and gathered the Youth Committee of the NCC twice a year. He also worked with the youth departments of the various denominations. He worked with the World Council of Churches and traveled internationally, where he had significant experiences. 16:00 – People he met during this period who made an impression. He met Philip Potter, now the Secretary General of the World Council of Churches. He was a West Indian from Dominica. Albert van den Heuvel from Holland was a “bright, young European theologian.” Ernst Lange from Berlin was another young theologian with whom Young lived for two weeks in Berlin. He was a prolific writer about post-war youth problems in Europe. Jacques Beaumont of France was the director of a French relief agency actively involved in the war in Algeria and refugee relief. Most of these people had been involved in the European underground and represented “Activist Christianity.” 19:50 – He recalls leading Bible study in East Berlin in 1959 or 1960 and the pressure put on the Christians there. He read passages that were important to the Southern Civil Rights Movement, but seemed controversial there. He tried teaching songs, but the spirituals they sang were provocative in communist society. The songs always had both a spiritual and political meaning. 23:40 – Young talks about the significance of the international experience and the churches. He recalls his experience with the literal “iron curtains” traveling through communist Germany on his first trip with Jean in 1953. They also visited refugee camps in Linz and Ried, Austria. 26:15 – The Church of the Brethren, part of the International Ecumenical Work Camp Movement, were running it. They were the only black people involved, which is why he and Jean went to different camps. He talks about his impressions of being the first black person the people in Austria had met. He drew a crowd getting a haircut. Children would rub his skin when he went swimming. He was respected and well received by the community. 29:45 – Jean was recruited at Manchester College because they had so few black people. Her sister was already involved with the organization. People were living in barracks-like refugee camps. [Recording ends 31:51, continues on Side 2.]
Young, Andrew, 1932-Civil rightsReligionInternational relations
AustriaEast Berlin, Germany
Tulane University Digital Library
Amistad Research Center
Audiocassette, mono. 16-bit
Box 138, Item 12, Side 1, Tom Dent collection, Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana
Physical rights are retained by the Amistad Research Center. Copyright is retained in accordance with U. S. Copyright laws.