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Andrew Young Interviewee: Atlanta, Georgia, 1980 August 20 [Box 138, Item 22, Side 1]
Dent, Thomas C.
Topics include: SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee), SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference), and the Vietnam Peace Movement. Young and Dent discuss the nature of compromise, the Birmingham Movement, Violence vs. Nonviolence, the tactical level vs. the philosophical level of the Civil Rights Movement, and Martin Luther King, Jr.'s views on the war in Vietnam.
00:00 – Dent asks about evaluating successful campaigns and compromise. Young says the Birmingham Movement was a compromise. Dent talks about the images presented that were remembered. The symbolism made it successful. 02:30 – SCLC was Reformists. America’s racism was the root of the problem. SNCC was different. They boycotted to end black cooperation with racism. 04:55 – Dent asks about the view that there inherent evils in the system deeper than racism. Young says SCLC did not believe this. Willie Ricks. Capitalism is inescapable. 08:00 – Discussion: can you exist in a system and criticize it? 10:15 – Violence. Violence in Algeria, Robert Mugabe, Kenneth Kaunda. 12:00 – Dent argues that there is value in ideas themselves, even if they are not related to immediate action. SCLC was involved in an idea game. Young agrees, and it is still going on. Nonviolence vs. violence. Was anyone talking about violence? 14:30 – The New Democratic Coalition met in Chicago in 1966 and were against the war in Vietnam. Martin Luther King, Jr. addressed them. After that, an SDS [Students for a Democratic Society] faction was talking about urban terrorism. Some of the Black Panthers were too. 16:15 – Young went to Cleveland to help Carl Stokes get elected as mayor. Prostitutes on Euclid Avenue recognized King and taunted him. He insisted Bernard Lee drive back to the corner. King got out and spoke to them. They went to the hotel to talk to them, and they explained the importance of electing Stokes. The “street people” got behind the voter registration drive. 19:00 – “Nonviolence” symbolizing a group of tactics. Dent has a problem with Young’s characterization of those who disagreed with nonviolence as wrong. 21:00 – Young talks about compromise. They believed in one step at a time. Take what you can get, then move on to the next step. They were looking for reconciliation. SCLC was geared toward the compromised solution. The March on Washington was built on the compromise from Birmingham. They built a coalition of good will in the March on Washington. They would not have achieved change if they ever rejected the compromise. 24:45 – Young views compromise as a labor negotiator does. Dent thinks the larger gains came from dramatization. Compromise led to change over a long period of time. 27:30 – Young says they did not explain ahead of time, except in Birmingham when they wrote a manifesto about what they sought. Goals were articulated at the staff level. King was more philosophical, so the press never understood the tactical level. Young’s writing. [Recording ends 31:54, continues on Side 2.]
Young, Andrew, 1932-
Vietnam War, 1961-1975
King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968
Tulane University Digital Library
Amistad Research Center
Audiocassette, mono. 16-bit
Box 138, Item 22, 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.