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Andrew Young Interviewee, 1981 May 8 [Box 139, Item 12, Side 1]
Young, Andrew, 1932-
Dent, Thomas C.
Portraits of key people continued: Wyatt Tee Walker, Ralph Abernathy, SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference)'s board, Hosea Williams, James Bevel. Other topics: Charleston Hospital strike.
00:00 – Tom Dent interviews Andrew Young. Young discusses Wyatt Tee Walker. He talks about Walker’s role as executive director of SCLC, and the struggles that he had with it. He was an exceptional preacher. He was a good writer and was ambitious. He was from New Jersey. 02:43 – Vernon Johns was a minister at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. 03:50 – Walker had the difficult job of educating SNCC. Young recalls an interaction with a SNCC worker regarding money in Albany, Georgia. Walker was not much older than the students. 06:06 – There was conflict between SCLC and SNCC. SNCC resented SCLC’s finances and pressure, but in 1961 they did not have the administrative procedures set up yet. They expressed resentment toward Wyatt or whoever was Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assistant. King was concerned about being blamed for the mismanagement of the money. Charlie Jones took the money and went to Mexico. 08:30 – King had friendships “off the record” with the students, in particular John and Stokely Carmichael. King and Carmichael’s messages were very similar, but where King advocated nonviolence, Carmichael advocated Black Power. 11:35 – Walker was the liaison in between the groups in the early days. SCLC expanded rapidly. They hired people on during the Citizenship Education Program. 13:20 – Walker left SCLC in 1964. He received an offer from the Negro Heritage Foundation and was offered the assistant pastorate of Adam Powell’s church. Young thinks his leaving was based on personal ambition, not a breakdown between himself and King or Young. 14:50 – The Charleston Hospital Workers’ strike. Young talks about how they became involved. The Hospital Workers’ Union of New York was invited in and called the SCLC to ask what they thought about it. They agreed to help mobilize the community. It was the first time a Civil Rights group and Labor Union had worked together, which lasted for one hundred days. 18:09 – SCLC worked to get the workers who had been fired their jobs back, increased wages, and better working conditions, but the right to organize was the “key issue.” They cut into Charleston’s tourist trade with their protests, and it cost the city and county a great deal of money. When an injustice becomes costly to the perpetrators, they will soon abandon it and negotiate. 20:55 – Young did most of the negotiating. Jay Iselin called Young. He knew Judge Haynsworth and the governor. He set up a series of phone calls. 22:45 – Newsweek did a story on the strike and Young realized the hospital superintendent was the child for Presbyterian missionaries and had grown up in South Africa. Young called to speak to Dr. McCord, and asked to come speak to him privately. The deputy director was a physician who had worked in New York during that hospital strike, and joined them for the meeting in McCord’s office in the Charleston Medical Center. Stoney Cooks came too. 25:29 – McCord blamed them for starting trouble, which was typical. Young did not argue, but asked what they could do about it. They began serious negotiations. McCord suggested he talk with the deputy director. They set up a meeting for the next day with the deputy. 28:40 – The deputy was very reasonable. He was from New York and had a different attitude toward both unions and black people. They negotiated to get the hospital workers back to work. With the governor’s office (arranged by Jay Iselin), they negotiated better wages and working conditions. Young talks about receiving a travel study grant from the Ford Foundation. [Recording ends 31:13, continues on Side 2.]
Young, Andrew, 1932-
Civil Rights Movement, Southern Christian Leadership Conference
Tulane University Digital Library
Amistad Research Center
Audiocassette, mono. 16-bit
Box 139, 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.