Passing the Baton
Andrew Young Discusses Leadership with a New Generation
By Rori Francis Blakeney
Former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young gathered a group of Men of Morehouse at his home recently to discuss politics, power and the plight of the world. “Don’t mimic people, be in tune with God and you will find your purpose,” said Young, known for his longevity, keenness of vision and diplomacy. “Don’t follow anyone, learn from everybody.”
Young told the group of 13 student- leaders who represented a cross section of the College community that he has done that throughout his career as a minister, civil rights activist, U.S. congressman, mayor of Atlanta and international businessman. He counts four men who have ties with Morehouse among his teachers.
“You have a tradition. Howard Washington Thurman ’23 gave you the spiritual; Benjamin Elijah Mays, the educational; Martin Luther King Jr. ’48, the nonviolent; and Maynard Holbrook Jackson
‘56, the economical,” Young said.
Dressed in a black Bank of America Atlanta Football Classic golf shirt, blue jogging pants and tennis shoes, Young, perched in his easy chair, talked about everything from his childhood in New Orleans to the need to develop Africa during the nearly two-hour conversation reminiscent of a Civil Rights strategy session.
“It was incredible. The opportunity to meet a man of his stature,” said Samuel Ivy, a freshman mathematics major from Memphis. “This man changed America. He walked with Martin Luther King Jr. They were homeboys. Yet, he is still humble.” In his quiet, gentle way, Young fielded questions like: Has the hip-hop generation lost the message of the movement? What is the greatest life lesson you’ve learned? How did you do it all?
Balance is one of the lessons Ivy gleaned from Young’s responses.
“It’s possible not to take on too much. It’s all about a journey destined by God,” Ivy said. Young also told the young men to spend as much time at Spelman as possible.
“Let [Spelman students] love you and support you. Respect them. The key to our success is the black woman,” Young said.
Young hopes to host a similar type of event where Morehouse students can interact with women leaders.
Anthony Pinder ’85, executive director of the Andrew Young Center for International Affairs, coordinated the meeting.
“We wanted the students to talk with Ambassador Young about myriad issues,” said Pinder. “This is an opportunity to reconnect Ambassador Young to the work that the Andrew Young Center for International Affairs is doing. It provides him with an opportunity to interact with our students.”
For Ivy, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“It was an unforgettable night of enlightment and encouragement to continue to create world changers,” he said. “I am a man who is going to change the world.”
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