Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Student journalists write about Andrew Young's visit

Andrew Young

Former U.S. ambassador Andrew Young visited Flagler College on Feb. 9 and spoke to students and faculty members.
Six journalism students listened to Young's remarks, then interviewed people in the crowd at Flagler's Gamache-Koger Theater. The journalists found the ambassador's talk to be interesting and inspiring. Below is what they wrote:

By Mari Pothier

Ambassador Andrew Young is an incredible man with an incredible past. Today, Flagler College was honored to have him speak to select students, faculty and staff about his journey here in St. Augustine. Young discussed a variety of topics with the students, the first being the redemption of the soul of America by removing the triple evils of racism, war and poverty. He believes the best way to resolve conflicts are by talking to enemies, not waging wars. Young gave us the example of how he was sent to Africa by President Jimmy Carter to discover what they wanted from the United States. Essentially, they wanted our respect. This then led to him expressing how everyone called Carter a weak president but not one person died in war under his presidency.

Young also talked about how today it is very hard for people to improve their economic standings, except if they are, “born with a trust fund.” Today, as students, we do not, in his opinion, have the same opportunities as older generations. One aspect though that stood out was his comment in that all young people at some point in their lives, should become atheists. Young feels that doubt leads to the greatest beliefs.

Jillian McClure, a junior at Flagler College and the original person to contact the Andrew Young Foundation, expressed in high spirits her reaction to his lecture.

“It was wonderful to be in the presence of such a wonderful person,” McClure said.

Lauren Avard, a sophomore and a history major at Flagler College thought Young made good points, but did not agree with everything he said.

“I thought he was a very good speaker, very eloquent,” Avard said.

Melissa Dagenais, a junior and also a history major at Flagler College, said the lecture was not what she was expecting and thought he was going to talk more on his documentary and involvement in St. Augustine.

“I really enjoyed his talk,” Dagenais said.

In all, it was an honor to be in the presence of such a courageous man.

By Kaitlyn Teabo

Civil Rights activist and former Atlanta Mayor Ambassador Andrew Young touched on how segregation is less common as when Martin Luther King was alive, but also how poverty is increasingly getting worse. He estimated that 40 percent of the American population is living under the poverty line today, compared to 30 percent in MLK's time.

"Unless you come from a privileged family, it getting harder and harder to climb the ladder of success," said Young.

His speech left many students and faculty inspired by his speech on civil rights.

Flagler College student Lauren Ruotolo, 19, left the speech with something to think about.

"I thought it was really inspirational. It gave me a feel that there is still hope for change, even though there is still segregation today," said Ruotolo. She felt enlightened after watching the speech.

Flagler College Professor Tim Johnson, 56, was also moved be the speech. "The fact that Flagler College can think about reconciliation made me pleased to come," said Johnson. "I am familiar with the civil rights movement in St. Augustine and was pleased to come out today."

Photo credit: Kaitlyn Teabo

By Jodi Marich

As students exited the room where Ambassador Andrew Young gave a speech, many talked quietly to their friends, but Chuck Riffenburg spoke above the crowd. "Fantastic!" He exclaimed to his friends.

Riffenburg is a Junior at Flagler College who is majoring in Philosophy and minoring in Religion. He said that the ambassador had touched on a lot of the key issues that Riffenburg experiences in his own life.

Congressman, Ambassador, and Mayor are are titles that Andrew Young go by, but Reverend is the name he is known for the most.

A civil rights activist, Reverend Young worked with Dr. Martin Luther King during the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 60s. In 1956, 100 ministers got together and created an organization to redeem America.

"It was illegal for us to come together like this in 1956, so we decided legal barriers needed to be broken down," Young said. He went on to say, " Part of Dr. Martin Luther King's mission was to get people to talk to their enemies."

Young and his friends talked about the dreaded debate of racism. So many in this country are uncomfortable around one another and different races. They believe that racism is still very much a part of this country and that it is the 3rd rail in the U.S.

"None of us have anything to say about how we were born. Nobody chose their parents, we are all here by an act of God," Young said.

Young is trying to get the word out there that we, young people, need to take charge and fix the problems out there in the world. We need to make the changes that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, dreamed of.

Jeff Wheeler, a Flagler College student, felt that there were many good points in the speech. "I feel racism is ingrained between black and white people." He thinks that they lived in a different time than we live in now, but still belives that racism is out there.

Kaitlyn Teabo, a Flagler College student, felt it was an inspirational speech. "It opened my eyes up to the civil rights movement in St. Augustine and it brought to my attention that although segregation has improved, poverty is still a problem with in the United States."

By Brittney Piescik

The ambassador spoke about racism, war and poverty and that Martin Luther King worked to correct these three things. He said that it is important for young people to question the things in their lives in order to gain a better understanding.

"There was a part in my life where I thought that everyone should be a young atheist," he said. Young defined atheism as honest doubt. There was a time when Young had questions and doubts as well. He asked his aunt when he was a teenager if Heaven was segregated and she shouted that he'd be struck down where he stood by God.

According to Young, "Life is a creative struggle.." and Chuck Riffenburg couldn't agree more.

"I think that it is very important that everybody starts thinking like these gentlemen here," said Riffenburg.

Photo credit: Kaitlyn Teabo

By Rachel Bruce

Andrew Young, reverend, mayor, congressman, ambassador for the United Nations and a friend of the late Martin Luther King Jr., came to Flagler to speak today. The 1951 graduate of Howard University wanted to pursue religion and continued his education to seminary school before accomplishing the major things of his life. Young was appointed as ambassador of the United Nations by President Jimmy Carter in 1977. Young was the first African-American appointed to that position.

Young’s speech contained several stories of his life through seminary, politics and civil rights movement. He had one thing to say about civil rights in the 1960s, “Young, black and poor people were disillusioned with politics.”

He said the number of assassinations were extremely high around the time King was killed. He said people were obviously having a tough time with sharing rights at that point.

St. Augustine had a big role with the civil rights movement. The Civil Act Movement of 1964 was passed for St. Augustine. Countering this, Young said, “The people of this community responded to violence with nonviolence.”

He also said things have not necessarily changed for racism except there are laws that state there will be no segregation.

Photo credit: Kaitlyn Teabo

By Cal Colgan

The following are reactions from three students who attended Ambassador Andrew Young's speech at the Gamache-Croger theatre in the Flagler College Student Center at 2 p.m.:

"I thought it was really informative, given the perspective of what happened in the city," said Dave Hiller, 23, a senior and history major at Flagler. "I wish [Young and his colleagues] would have elaborated on what happened in the city."

"I thought it was interesting having all the perspectives of those who were [involved in the Civil Rights movement] at the time," said James Tyer, 20, junior and political science major at Flagler. "I think [Young] focused a little too much on economics."

Flagler junior and business major Jeff Wheeler had a different view on Ambassador Young's speech. Wheeler said that he was surprised at Young's perspective on civil rights and race relations, especially how they exist today. "We're more accustomed to it, and there's not that big of a change," said Wheeler, 21.

Photo credit: Kaitlyn Teabo

Selected Young quotes, submitted by Taylor Laskoski:
Part of Dr. Kings message was to get people to talk to their enemies.
You had a government that believed in investing in its people.
Being an American citizen meant an automatic pass to prosperity.This community put nonviolence to the test.
The test for us is how we deal with the challenges we have.
Photo credit: Taylor Laskoski

Here's another take, this one submitted by Dustin Boshart:

First off he was a great leader in the Civil Rights Movement. He has been a reverend, a mayor, a congressman and an ambassador. He believes in setting good examples, and for the young to lead the moral revolution.
Like MLK, he wanted to stop racism, war and poverty. Blacks and whites couldn't eat together, learn together or even work together and those racist barriers needed to be broke down.
He was in ROTC, but because of a broken wrist he was forced to leave the military because of his inability to carry a rifle correctly or "Uncle Sam's Way." He believes that that saved his life.
Young said:
I learned war was not necessary ... MLK wanted people to talk to their enemies.
We are all here from the grace of God. We don't chose our parents, no one says what their born from. Whether it's white and rich, black and rich, white and poor or black and poor... it doesn't matter.
Life is a creative kind of struggle. The Civil Rights Movement said let's do it without violence.
First Coast News report on a Flagler College student's role in bringing Andrew Young to St. Augustine

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