Interview with Andrew Young

Describe what happened when you all heard that James Meredith had been shot in Mississippi?


Oh, we, the SCLC executive staff was in a staff meeting in the SCLC board room in Atlanta and the word came that James Meredith's been killed. And Bob Green and Jose and everybody just jumped up and said, "We got to go find out when the next plane is to Mississippi." And it was part of our th--our strategy and philosophy that if somebody's killed, whatever they're doing, others had to take it up. And so they were ready to go to Mississippi. Then we got a call that he wasn't dead, that he was just wounded and he was going to recover. Well I wanted to sit back down and have the meeting because we were a very small staff with about a half a million dollar a year budget and we were already committed to voter registration in the South and we were already committed to voter registration, a movement against slums, Operation Breadbasket, and a movement to help home ownership for the poor in the North. And to go to Mississippi meant to abandon these other things and possibly get bogged down, 'cause I didn't see how we could do all of it. But I didn't prevail. But I didn't go, I said, "You all go on, this is crazy". And when they went over, and Martin went with them, then he called and said, "We're going to go on and complete the Meredith march." I said, "Oh Lord, have mercy. What are we into now?", because we had less than a hundred staff and see you could operate in Birmingham, or Selma, or Montgomery with a small staff 'cause those are small towns. Chicago had more Black people than the whole state of Alabama or Mississippi, so we needed more staff in Chicago than we needed still working in the South. And then to take on Alabama and Chicago and then add Mississippi I thought was, was just trying to do too much.


Were you at the meeting with... Let me check the footage? We just made two production teams


Um, I can't do any of these questions in these couple of minutes. Let's just cut and roll.