Students gather to reclaim the role they played as leaders in the Civil Rights era
Ambassador Andrew Young speaks with students from St. Augustine High School.
It happened on a recent Saturday, three days ahead of the 49th anniversary of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, and it happened in the presence of one of the iconic figures of the Civil Rights movement, Ambassador Andrew Young.
Months in the making, a process of organizing and discussion culminated in a convening of 200 student leaders committed to creating a passion for faithful citizenship and engagement.
They gathered at the University of New Orleans, and, in addition to UNO, they represented universities and high school from all across the city: Southern University at New Orleans, Dillard, Loyola, Tulane and Xavier universities as well as New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and St. Augustine, Ben Franklin and Lake Area high schools.
Meeting with the ambassador, a New Orleans native, was an honor for the delegates, and for Young the occasion was tinged with strong memories. Back in the day, barely out of college himself, Young led numerous marches and actions before and after the murder of King, his colleague and close confidant. He went on to serve as a Georgia congressman, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under President Jimmy Carter and mayor of Atlanta (twice).
The delegates were demonstrating their own leadership by coming together to identify and focus on local, state and national issues affecting them as students and young adult citizens of our city, state and nation.
Supported by enlightened faculty and officials, during the months-long run-up to the convening, the delegates conducted “student listening campaigns” — one-on-one conversations among their peers — to identify topics of mutual concern and to recruit participants.
One goal of the day-long convening was the formation of a citywide student collaborative reminiscent of the student nonviolent movement of the 1960s. Among issues of concern surfaced by the listening campaigns were public safety, police/student relations, Students gather to reclaim the role they played as leaders in the Civil Rights era | The Lens: