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Andrew Young Interviewee: Atlanta, Georgia, 1980 August 20 [Box 138, Item 20, Side 2]
Young, Andrew, 1932-
Dent, Thomas C.
Young continues to talk about the Chicago Movement: living in tenements, working with labor unions and follwing their model of collective bargaining, and staff who worked on the movement. More on the Meredith March: hostility in Philadelphia, MS; the murders of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner; being tear gassed in Canton, MS.
00:00 – Young’s discussion of the Chicago Movement continues. Following their meetings with Mayor Richard J. Daley, CORE representative Bob Lucas still wanted to march into Cicero. SCLC felt that they had gotten what they were looking for, an agreement to desegregate employment and allow voter registration, etc. CORE marched, but the march was anticlimactic and without incident. King had wanted to save the threat of marching in Cicero as a trump card to ensure Daley would follow through on his promises. 02:15 – Meredith started the Mississippi March [“March Against Fear”] right around this time. Young felt that SCLC was already overextended and did not want to stop the work in Chicago to head to Mississippi, but they did end up going. 03:25 – During the march there, there was an anniversary of the deaths of the murdered civil rights workers James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael “Mickey” Schwerner. They felt it was important to take a driving detour to Philadelphia, MS. They marched from the church where they had held their last mass meeting to the courthouse downtown and back. Their last trip to Philadelphia had been the year the men were killed in 1964 with the Freedom Democratic Party. 04:50 – Young talks about a man and woman who witnessed Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner being taken away from the church. The men who took them came back that night and dragged them out of the house. The man recited the words of a hymn and she pled with them. They later came to in their front yard, feeling they had been miraculously saved. 07:35 – During their memorial march in 1966, a pickup truck flew toward them and tried to ram the demonstration, but they were able to get out of the way. When they got to the courthouse, Martin Luther King, Jr. said he called on Ralph Abernathy to pray “because he sure wasn’t going to close his eyes.” Abernathy “prayed with his eyes open,” asking forgiveness for the murderers. The guilty parties, Sheriff Cecil Ray Price, Lawrence Rainey, and others, had been arrested at this time, but released. When Abernathy said that some of the murderers were in the sound of his voice, someone from the crowd said “you’re goddamn right and we’re not through yet.” On the way back another truck sped toward them, but authorities got between them in time. 11:45 – Canton, Mississippi. Young recalls when they continued to march past Clarksdale and were out of food. When they got into a town ahead, the townspeople had prepared food for them. They had received a similar reception in Canton, Mississippi. 14:00 – They got to the location of a meeting on school grounds in Canton. Mississippi State troopers surrounded them, observing their evening worship service and mass meeting. They troopers put on their gas masks and started firing tear gas into the crowd. Young tried to shout directions. Tear gas hit him where he was standing on top of a truck. He choked and vomited. This was the only time he “lost his cool” during the Civil Rights Movement. 17:25 – Young remembers running, although he was always the one who normally stayed behind. Survival instinct kicked in. They got over a fence and behind a house, blocking the wind. Young got his breath back and went back. Willie Ricks was there, on top of an automobile talking to the crowd. Young pulled him down, telling him he would get people killed, and they went back to the church. 20:00 – Stokely Carmichael panicked and was in a state of shock. Young thought his reaction may have been due to the time he had almost been killed with Jonathan Daniels in Lowndes County. He was standing next to Daniels when Daniels was shot and killed. 22:10 – King was there. He and Bernard [Lee] had also been on top of the truck. Young told them they should get down. They led some of the children off and did not receive the worst of the tear gas. Young was more prepared when he was tear gassed the next time he was tear gassed. 23:45 – Dent says Annie Devine had also told him about the incident. She had said that the incident happened because they did not have a permit to use the school grounds. Young says no one warned them or asked them to leave. 24:45 – Meredith March. Dent asks about the final night of the march and their arrival in Jackson. Young remembers they were held up, unsure if James Meredith would be meeting them. They had to go eighteen miles the last day. 27:00 – They held a program upon their arrival. Young does not remember King’s speech that day. The whole Civil Rights Movement gathered. Whitney Young of the Urban League was in attendance. It went off without incident. Dent remembers Young telling him at the time that Meredith was “pulling on Martin’s coat tails.” Young remembers being glad that it was over. He could never see the significance of the march. 30:00 – He remembers Bob Green on the march when they got to Grenada, MS and a statue of Jefferson Davis. [Recording ends 31:39.]
Young, Andrew, 1932-
Tulane University Digital Library
Amistad Research Center
Audiocassette, mono. 16-bit
Box 138, Item 20, Side 2, Tom Dent collection, Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana
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