Andrew Young—mayor, minister, congressman, civil rights icon and U.N. ambassador—shared the secret to his success as a negotiator and peacemaker Friday with a impressionable group of middle schoolers in the heart of his own community, Cascade Heights.
Recounting his 7th grade school year, Young, 79, said he was not the biggest boy on the block.
In fact, the larger-than-life speaker told the group—gathered in an auditorium at his first wife's namesake, Jean Childs Young Middle School—that he "was short so, when there were fights, I knew I was one of the ones who might get beat up."
To compensate, Young said, he learned how to keep the peace among friends and, eventually, nations.
Young, the 2nd African-American mayor of Atlanta and one of its most prominent citizens of any race, spoke to the pupils on their level with that anecdote and several others Friday as part of the 2nd annual nationwide Back to School with the History Makers.
The event sends some 500 prominent African-Americans to schools across the country to talk about recount their own experiences as schoolchildren and encourage students to value and finish their education.
In Atlanta, 35 History Makers spoke at schools Friday including:
executive television producer Reuben Cannon (House of Payne); Dr. Thomas Cole, former president of Clark Atlanta University; author Vernon Smith; and Dr. Walter Young, who spoke with his brother Andrew Young at Young Middle.
For more information about Friday's participants and the History Makers oral histories and archives, visit the History Makers website.