Hearing first-person stories from the front lines of the civil rights movement is becoming a rare opportunity these days, especially from someone so integral to Atlanta’s growth as a city during the 20th century.
But students and others in the Emory and Atlanta communities will have that chance on Wednesday, February 22, when US Ambassador Andrew Young and Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Ernie Suggs sit down for a conversation about the recent book “The Many Lives of Andrew Young,” written by Suggs. The event, hosted by the Emory Libraries, will start at 7 p.m. in the Emory Student Center.
The conversation, part of Emory’s observance of Black History Month, will be followed by a Q-and-A session. Books will be available for sale at the event, and a book signing will follow the conversation.
Register here: emorylib.info/young.
A prominent civil rights leader alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s, Young will share stories from his time at the forefront of the civil rights movement. Suggs has been a reporter at the AJC since 1997, currently covering race and culture. He is also the publisher of the paper’s weekly Black-oriented newsletter, Unapologetically ATL.
Young, who turns 91 in March, was a two-term mayor of Atlanta (1982-1990) and later co-chair of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta; the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations (1977-79), and a Representative in the U.S. Congress (1973-77). As one of King’s lieutenants during the civil rights movement, Young helped draft the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He also served as executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, known as SCLC (1964-1968), which was instrumental in the civil rights movement. The Rose Library at Emory holds the SCLC papers in its collections.
The book features hundreds of photographs that capture Young’s extraordinary life and a compelling narrative by Suggs, including personal accounts from Young himself.
Suggs hopes that audience members come away from the conversation with a wealth of knowledge about Young’s life and what he’s been able to accomplish for others in civil rights, for the city of Atlanta, and for peace among other countries.
“Andrew Young has been at the forefront of every major civil rights and human rights decision that’s been made over the last 50 to 60 years,” Suggs says. “He was right there with Martin Luther King Jr., so those stories are always very important. He succeeded Maynard Jackson as the second black mayor of Atlanta, and they set out to transform Atlanta.”
Suggs says he enjoys watching the reaction of the audiences as they listen to Young’s stories of growing up in a diverse neighborhood (which included a house that served as a Nazi Party headquarters), working with King (and President Lyndon Johnson) toward the Voting Rights Act, and his experiences traveling the world as ambassador to the United Nations.
“I’ve been in awe with the reception we’ve gotten all over the country, whether it’s Washington DC or New Orleans or Charlotte or wherever we’ve gone,” Suggs says. “The crowds have been large and the reception has been phenomenal in terms of people wanting to hear him talk, and to talk to him and see him, and take photographs with him. They have such respect for him.”
The Emory Student Center is located on the Emory campus at 605 Asbury Cir., Atlanta, 30322. For those coming from off campus, parking is available at in the Peavine deck.
The event is sponsored by Emory Libraries; Emory University Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; the Michael C. Carlos Museum; and the Decatur Book Festival.
—by Maureen McGavin, Emory Libraries senior writer
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