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The Local Take August 15: Andrew Young Talks About His Friend John Lewis

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Saturday morning at eight on WCLK's The Local Take, I'll talk with Ambassador Andrew Young about his friend Georgia 5th District Congressional Representative the Honorable John Lewis.  To live in Atlanta is to walk in the footsteps of the giants who collectively pushed our country kicking and screaming towards the ideals that began this experiment in democracy.  You can regularly run into these living legends at the businesses on Cascade.

They are at the SW Arts Center for a performance or you see them on Sunday at church, but even with this familiarity we often still don't know the "person."  I asked Ambassador Young to share ancedotes that we may not know about his friend "The Boy from Troy." 

Better than their first meeting, Ambassador Young spoke about the first time he became aware of John Lewis. It was on the campus of Fisk University where had been a speaker at an event on campus. This was during the pledge season. He explained that after his event, as he was escorted from the venue, crowds of students were stepping and dancing and having a great time.  So much so, that he noticed a contingent of about 8 - 10 students heading away from the all of the activities. It was such an anomaly that he asked what was going on with that group of students. Someone said "Oh that's John Lewis and his group." They went on to explain that although the law had been changed and restaurants were supposed to seat Black citizens, John Lewis took a group of students out every weekend to make sure that the restaurants were following the law.  Ambassador Young mentioned that John Lewis was about the work. He shares that John Lewis had the same quality of "quiet determination" that Martin Luther King had.  He also spoke about the cruelty of racism that was prevalent in John Lewis' life as a child growing up in Troy, AL. 

When I asked him about how John Lewis was chosen to speak at the 1963 March on Washington he spoke again about John as a person that was doing the work. He shared that John wasn't even in the room when the decision was made that he'd be a speaker. 

Ambassador Young speaks about the "war on poverty" and the technological changes that make it harder for people to find work. He goes on to share that there are fewer hungry people today than a few years ago. There are still too many people going hungry. 

Ambassador Young shared a story about their visit to India on the 50th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s visit. He spoke about an ongoing joke where MLK explained that if they died he'd be able to "preach you into heaven" and the sermon would turn into a roast. As their visit started in India he said the spirit hit John Lewis and he began to dance. He did a holy dance at the Ghandi memorial.  Before our conversation ended he spoke of Lillian Lewis, her love of art and participation in the Peace Corps.  I was left saying "I didn't know that!" 

To hear Morgan Freeman read John Lewis' editorial from the New York Times

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I ran into Ambassador Andrew Young at a friend's birthday party in February 2020